Notre Dame Football Stock Report: Week 12

When it rains it pours, the hits just keep on coming, if it wasn’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all, kick a man while he’s down, and just when you thought things couldn’t get worse you go and do this. All things Notre Dame fans could have uttered at any number of happenings during the 2016 football season. Plainly put, it has been a nightmare, and the NCAA announcement on Tuesday that Notre Dame would have to vacate all the wins from their best season since 1993 just put the icing on that disgusting, molded cake.

It’s pretty impressive that a school having to vacate wins from a national title appearance season is about the 5th most pressing issue for the program, and in fairness a lot of that is because the penalty itself is a complete dumpster fire of hypocrisy and buffoonery from the NCAA that the punishment is hard to take seriously. But, had this happened last year, there would be far greater outrage from the casual fan.

But, Notre Dame has much bigger concerns at the moment, as it were, like whether or not the coach with a contract that runs through 2021 should be the coach through 2016. It’s been a remarkable turn of events when you consider last year at this time I wrote Brian Kelly had Notre Dame on the brink of greatness as a program while preparing to play Stanford in the season finale. A blowout loss this week to USC could very well put him on the brink of no longer being employed by the university. 2016, man.

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January 1st, 2017

Let’s all just agree to move on, yes? 2016 happened, it was terrible, lets learn from it, move on to bigger and better things in 2017. And really, I can’t name anything in the football program that is going right at the moment.


The Offensive Line

Has to be the most disappointing group of the season just based on expectations and the fact that I thought two of the four best players on the whole team were playing right next to each other. It turns out replacing three starters from a stellar unit, no matter how good offensive line recruiting has been, is no easy task and the Irish suffered for it this year. There is a real case to be made that Kelly did this group no favors with the way he approached this season offensively; he never really fully committed to this being a running team and when he did we saw success (see the first halves against Stanford and Virginia Tech). But, that being said, the group still underachieved. Unfortunately, Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson never became the consistent stars we expected them to be and the other three on the line experienced the growing pains you’d expect as first time starters.

The good news is the best four players return in 2017 with some new blood being introduced somewhere on the right side of the line either at guard or tackle. I think it’s fair to say McGlinchey struggled with the move from the right to left tackle and a year under his belt on the left side should serve him well heading into next season. Chemistry and continuity are a thing in football, especially so on the offensive line, and Notre Dame should be building both on the line, with some pretty good raw materials to work with. It’s reasonable to expect it won’t be same ‘ol, same ‘ol with this group next year.

Daelin Hayes

If we’re all being honest, we expected more from Hayes this year. Mostly because we needed more this year, because this team doesn’t have anyone else on the roster with his skill set.  This isn’t to go so far as to say Hayes was a disappointment, we just could have used more. He has yet to record a tackle for loss, or a sack (only six players have a sack so far this year, good lord) and also didn’t register a quarterback hurry. So, the thing we needed him to be good at, he was not good at. However, he did flash some athleticism in coverage against Michigan State, breaking up a pass and causing an interception, and he did force a fumble against NC State. Part of the problem is it doesn’t seem like the coaches ever really figured out how or where to use him and thus never got him into a role that catered to his skills.

The good news is he was a pretty big injury concern heading into the year and thus far has escaped unscathed (knock on wood). For a guy who hasn’t had a ton of game reps that weren’t against division I caliber football players, this is no small thing. Notre Dame will have a new defensive coordinator next season, and if Kelly–or whoever is choosing who that coordinator will be–is smart, he’ll put in film of Hayes and tell them to detail their plans on how to use this guy.


Greg Hudson

It was a nice story for a while, but ultimately the punchline was this is what the Notre Dame defense would look like under a replacement level coordinator instead of VanGorder. Essentially, a fun game you’d play among friends while watching Notre Dame play and ask each other “how good would Notre Dame be on defense if they replaced BVG with any random coach?” Which is essentially what Notre Dame did with Hudson, who many had never heard of. It’s really no fault of Hudson, he didn’t have a spring and fall to teach these guys anything and in fact he had something worse which was an entire spring and fall of them learning a bunch of bad habits. But, in order to be seriously considered as the DC next season, he had to be stellar and they fell well short of that. His defense offered very little resistance to what Virginia Tech was doing for most of the game; the Hokies moved the ball pretty effectively when they weren’t snapping the ball over people heads and deflecting touchdown passes into the arms of out of position defenders. And the unfortunate fact remains that after 11 games it’s for me to point to any area of defense that I’d consider a strength. Which isn’t a good thing.

Paul Longo

This isn’t necessarily a call for him to be fired, it’s just that whatever they are doing in this area just isn’t working. Maybe he can adapt his philosophy, if that’s even a thing in strength and conditioning. Notre Dame has faded in the 4th quarter in almost all of their games. The offensive line is getting shoved around. The defensive line is getting shoved around. Whatever was going on with Tarean Folston and his body this year is befuddling, Josh Adams lacked the burst he showed throughout last year for most of this year. Again, I’m not a strength and conditioning guy, but something has to give in this department, because like the rest of the program right now, it just isn’t good enough.


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  1. Saw that USC will be showcasing #1 Juco tight end prospect on the sidelines today. Reminds me of OJ coming in to LA. Something is very wrong with this picture. The fans are being shortchanged . Either we keep up with the Joneses or the same old living in past glory. It should be very embarrasing for the Irish today. I will be very happy with double digits appearing on the scoreboard.

    1. I think you nailed it here. Notre Dame’s inability to keep up with the Joneses is the root cause of most of their problems. BK at least recognized this and made decent strides, but the program is still a decade behind. Can’t even land one 5 star. ND chooses to put themselves behind the 8 ball in numerous areas, then acts shocked when they have 4 win seasons including losses to Duke, Navy and many hapless others.

  2. I hate that stinking so cal band. As usually happens against N.D. , Darnold will come out of this the early Heisman favorite. I hate that stinking so cal band. It must have been Moose , why in hell did N.D. let them off the hook coming here later in the year? Go Irish consumate the trojans!

    1. Yup, Burgy, two dropped TDs on 4th down by Colts WRs from a backup QB is real gutsy. “Dublin’s” Stillers are a real juggernaut again a mediocre team missing half its starters. Real gutsy win. NOT!

  3. As a ND football fan, I don’t think I have felt this pessimistic about the status of a ND team since 2007 or in the Faust years. We have a HC that I suspect no longer has a “heart” in being at ND. I just wish he would quit but that is not going to happen and he will be back next year. The whole NCAA sanctions and applying a standard to vacate wins when other teams committing more aggregious things after being caught get nothing like that is bullshit. I think USC is going to blitzkrieg the Irish this weekend so that game most likely will really suck. This team needs a strong leader and unfortunately, it ain’t happening. Going to be a long winter-spring-summer to think about what’s happened-happening with this team. A very disappointing season as a fan.

    1. Nemesis,
      I don’t know – this whole thing was about as egregious as you can get without actually paying the athletes or their families outright. Some guy on one of the sports TV channels was moaning that it was “only two players” blah blah blah – but it was eight players at least! We’d all have known this all along if SI was doing their job – no one would have been ill informed or surprised.
      Add it to the six other players who were jailed for high crimes and misdemeanors and you get a whopping grand total of 14 scholarship athletes, as well as the normal amount of academic and discipline casualties that all programs always have, and the claims that there are no “institutional problems” sounds like a lot of people talking like lawyers talk. You, and a lot of fans, want to blame NCAA for the systemic meltdown in the football program? Perhaps they were harsh – but until someone with real power out there starts looking at the “big picture” straight on, this will just be a continuing field day for people who have said all along that ND is not now, and never has been, better than any one else out there, which was not the truth for 80 years. The administration out there is totally convinced that the PR triumph of style over substance will always prevail and win the day, no matter what outrages occur. In this modern communications era, they could be right. They talk the talk of Notre Dame, mostly from rote memory.

      Bruce G. Curme 77′ 82′

      1. ND has always held itself up to be ethically above other Universities with big time sports programs. So it stands to reason when you project that image and then get caught doing otherwise, the punishment is going to be harsher from those who feel like you’ve been rubbing their faces in it.

    2. In principle I agree – a really dysfunctional team – except for the punter and field goal kicker – every phase of this team is in a mess. When was the last time you felt confident in picking up a 3rd and 2 or fourth and short or stopping it on defense – the real question is what has happens to Kizer. All the time ND has the lead and then blows it – other coaches make in game changes – Kelly does not counter. In game changes and adjustment totally absent – just a mess overall

  4. There may be plenty of top notch assistants and coordinators in play from LSU. Maybe even Ogeren (spelling?) as a potential head coach. I don’t know, I fell asleep during the second half of the LSU game last night, so I never heard the final resolution out there. Maybe we don’t get Hermann, but we could get Ogeren and their DC. I like the two back offense I was seeing. It looked like power running and passing to me.
    Bruce G. Curme
    La Crosse, Indiana

  5. The defense was and still is horrible. The D will get worn down by USC this weekend. The Irish will keep it respectable in the first half and maybe even go into halftime with a lead. USC will make the proper adjustments while ND makes none and SC walks away with an easy win 55-24.

  6. I can’t disagree with the points. Everything has been a disappointment. Re: Hudson I also agree. While there has been some improvement at times, I don’t think there’s enough there to hang your hat on. Maybe it’s unfair because he was hardly put in a good situation, but it is what it is.

    And yes, the NCAA is a bunch of hypocrites. ND has to vacate wins even though they acknowledge there is no evidence of a loss of institutional control, and the jury is still out on UNC, where there was clear collusion? Come on guys. Stewart Mandel in his mailbag on Fox Sports had a good response about that (and he is not a ND apologist, not a hater but not a fan either).

    But yes, ND football is in such sad shape, the NCAA penalties are minor in comparison.

    Thankfully, ND Basketball looks solid. They won the Legend’s tournament. They could at least have a good year. I know it’s not football, but at least they are doing their part to make ND proud.

  7. “The Offensive Line…..Has to be the most disappointing group of the season just based on expectations and the fact that I thought two of the four best players on the whole team were playing right next to each other. It turns out replacing three starters from a stellar unit, no matter how good offensive line recruiting has been, is no easy task and the Irish suffered for it this year.”

    I beg to differ sir!

    No game has been under 30 points scored.

  8. If ND doesn’t fire Kelly, they have zero chance of getting a top level defensive coordinator. Anyone smart will know he enters next season on the hot seat. Why would you come here when you maybe out of a job in 12 months?

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