Another chance for Notre Dame to make a statement in a primetime game in front of a national audience and another time the Irish made one no Notre Dame fan wanted to hear. Despite taking a lead into the 4th quarter, Notre Dame allowed Stanford to score three touchdowns in a matter of minutes fueled by two Irish turnovers. The Irish struggled once again to maintain any offense and let Stanford’s backup quarterback to start the season to have a career day on them.
Let’s crack this one open and look at just went so wrong.
At this point, Brian Kelly may need to open the QB competition for 2018
Again, let me make this clear upfront, I like Brandon Wimbush a lot and his talent is undeniable. That said, after 11 starts in the Chip Long/Brian Kelly offense, it’s pretty clear that something isn’t clicking for him. Wimbush was a painful 11 of 28 last night for 249 yards. The yardage total was inflated by two long catch and runs by Kevin Stepherson and Equanimeous St. Brown that accounted for 158 of those yards. That means the other 26 pass attempts Wimbush made generated just 91 yards. That’s just not good folks.
Wimbush’s turnovers have been deadly in Notre Dame’s losses including last night. It started with the fumble on the last offensive play of the day against Georgia. It happened again in South Florida with two interceptions and a fumble against Miami. Last night Wimbush turned it over at the worst possible moment. Right after Stanford took a 24-20 lead at the start of the 4th quarter, Wimbush was intercepted on Notre Dame’s first ensuing play. It was a bad interception too. It wasn’t a great play by Stanford by any means. It was a bad throw that Wimbush just can’t make in that situation.
There isn’t a simple solution here really, but baring some sort of ridiculous performance in the bowl game, Notre Dame needs to open up the quarterback competition in spring ball. Wimbush finished the regular season completing less than 50 % of his passes in a day and age when 60% is the barometer for success. It’s not like Notre Dame has a seasoned quarterbacks coach to work with Wimbush through the issues either.
Wimbush has not been helped out by his wide receivers much with way too many drops and their inability to come down with any sort of contested catches, but that is only a small part of the problem here. For as many drops as there have been, there have been just as many instances of a Notre Dame receivers running wide open only to be badly missed.
At the same time, Chip Long needs to do a better job of calling plays that Wimbush can execute. Notre Dame pulled off one of those horizontal/wide receiver type passes maybe once or twice all season but Long still calls them over and over. Wimbush has trouble throwing them and the receivers struggle to block them. Stop calling them til you know you can execute them.
Notre Dame defensive backs still struggle playing the ball in the air
While the offense was tough to watch on Saturday night, the defensive backfield was equally painful. Notre Dame defensive backs have struggled all season long playing the ball in the air with last night being the low point in this department. KJ Costello was just lobbing passes up throughout the game and Stanford was winning every one of those situations. What a novel idea, right? Having wide receivers who make contested catches in traffic?
All that said, Notre Dame’s defensive backs allowed Costello to toss a career high 4 touchdowns when in actuality they had an opportunity to record a couple picks if they just played the ball in the air. Mike Elko did a lot of good things with the Notre Dame defense this year, but he needs to focus on the secondary in the off-season. He and Brian Kelly may need to evaluate the staff in the secondary as well. Notre Dame’s corners have struggled playing the ball in the air for a while and Notre Dame has not been recruiting corners with any level of success the last couple years.
Costello had 5 touchdowns passes all season in 140 attempts. Notre Dame allowed him to throw four last night alone on just 22 attempts. That’s also not good folks. By contrast, Wimbush has three touchdowns to four interceptions in Notre Dame’s three losses this season.
Jerry Tillery and Tevon Coney played great
While the secondary had a bad night, the front seven played well for most of the game until the end when they ran out of gas. Jerry Tillery and Tevon Coney specifically played some really good football. Tillery had three TFL and Coney had two of his own. These two will be the cornerstones of the Notre Dame defense next year and both are in store for big time seasons.
Tillery was disruptive all night and spent a lot more time in the backfield than he has in weeks. Coney meanwhile was all over the field just as he’s been all season long. At one point Coney meet Bryce Love in the hole with Love trying to juke Coney. Coney was having none of it, however, and he made the stop in the backfield. Both players have All-American potential next fall.
David Shaw owns Brian Kelly
This one is painful, but Shaw simply owns Kelly at this point. Kelly is just 2-6 in his Notre Dame tenure against Stanford and after last night’s drubbing, he has still never won at Stanford Stadium – an 0-4 record. Shaw just does more with less than Kelly has year in and year out. This wasn’t even one of Stanford’s better teams yet they beat Notre Dame by 18 points – the largest margin of victory in this series since 2010. Notre Dame hasn’t beaten Stanford by that much in over a decade.
Shaw is easily the most unlikable coach Notre Dame faces each year mainly because he just keeps on beating Notre Dame. Shaw just keeps on winning at Stanford too. He is a bit of a reverse Kelly in that Stanford has lately lost games early in the season only to rebound each year and close strong. Notre Dame under Kelly has rarely finished a season as strong or stronger than they started it.
Why on earth didn’t Dexter Williams get more carries?
No matter what Brian Kelly says publicly, Josh Adams does not look 100% just as he didn’t look 100% last year at the beginning of the season when it was pretty clear he was missing that second gear that makes him so special. Last night Adams picked up just 49 yards on 20 carries. Dexter Williams, meanwhile, recorded just three carries. He picked up 21 yards on those three carries though so why not give the kid the ball more with the offense struggling?
It is really mystifying that Williams has not gotten more carries this year when he’s averaged nearly 9 yards a carry. He ended the season with a mere 37 carries. Williams battled through his own injury issues this year, but he still played in nine games. That means Notre Dame gave a kid averaging 8.8 yards per carry the ball on average just over four times a game. Just don’t get it.
Another November collapse for Notre Dame
For the second time in four seasons, a promising Notre season has come to a crashing halt in November. In 2014 Notre Dame was in the playoff mix at the start of the month before it lost four straight games to end this season. Just 15 days ago Notre Dame was #3 in the country heading into the Miami game with a chance to make a statement on the national stage. Instead, this team lost two of three and needed a Navy defender to fall down on a desperation 4th down attempt to hold on to beat Navy.
Last night’s game looked like a team playing its first game of the year in September, not it’s 12th the last weekend in November. With Notre Dame in primed position to take the lead last night after Chris Finke set the Irish up at the Stanford 19, the Irish were called for back to back procedure penalties including a false start from 5th year senior Mike McGlinchey and the Irish settled for three. After that field goal, Stanford scored three touchdowns in just over three and a half minutes thanks to the Wimbush pick and CJ Sanders fumbling a kickoff after Stanford opened up their first two possession lead of the game.
Even in 2015 when Notre Dame didn’t fully collapse in November, they played lackluster football against Wake Forest and Boston College before losing to Stanford to end the season and eliminate themselves from the playoff mix.
I am a life long ND fan (will be 67 in Jan.). There is little left in sports which captures my attention (ND basketball & Hockey
a distant second and third). Way back when I was in basic training (during the Vietnam War), we would often hear the
crude remark: ‘opinions and predictions are like ‘ass____s’; everyone has one’. This is true. However, I will make this
prediction; ND will never win with Brian Kelly. His ‘Cincinnati’ style offense just won’t work here. Most importantly, we are
losing everything that made ND football so captivating: the aura, mystique, intrigue, enthusiasm, and love of the game.
It didn’t start with BK, but it has accelerated.
‘Mr. obviously’ will never get it done. His chances of pulling an upset are very poor, and go into the negatives after the
Halloween candy has been distributed. It’s true, if he goes, who would follow? But, someone must, and what we have now is simply insufferable. Other teams have had their coaching woes, Nebraska and Michigan come to mind, but, who cares!
We have always been, and, yes, I pray, in a class by ourselves. The patience being asked of us seems almost Biblical.
Maybe, the answer resides up in the ‘front office’? Too many lawyers running too many things. This has too end, and it will
either be the ND mystique, or, hopefully, the entire ‘brain trust’ itself. One or the other. More to follow!
Saw an article yesterday on the internet where Wimbush is rated the # 5 best QB in the college ranks…
I AGREE WITH PETE. THE PLAY CALLING ALL YEAR HAS BEEN SO PREDICTABLE. NO REVERSES, FLEA FLICKERS, DOUBLE REVERSES, SCREEN PASSES, MISDIRECTION, ETC. AUBURN THREW THE BOOK AT BAMA, AND WON. HALF TIME ADJUSTMENTS ARE NEVER MADE. QUICK SLANTS WERE WIDE OPEN AGAINST STANFORD. HOW MANY WERE CALLED? ADAMS HAS NOT BEEN RIGHT SINCE WAKE FOREST. OTHER BACKS SHOULD HAVE BEEN UTILIZED. ALL YEAR NO C.J. SANDERS? STANFORD’S PLAYERS WANTED THIS GAME MORE. THEIR RECEIVERS MADE PLAYS OVER IRISH DEFENDERS ALL NIGHT. THEIR D LINE STUFFED OUR VAUNTED O LINE. EVERYONE WANTS TO BLAME COACH KELLY. HE IS NOT ON THE FIELD MAKING MISTAKES. THIS TEAM WAS TALENTED BUT LACKED THE HEART TO GET THE JOB DONE. VERY FRUSTRATING FOR THE FANS!???
I watched Clemson and Auburn both play Alabama this last year Saturday included. I saw great creativity on offense, up tempo, all kinds of counters misdirection, etc. I have never seen anything close to that from Kelly’s offenses. Chip Long talked all off season about playing fast etc. I didn’t see much of it. Of course maybe he wanted to do more but couldn’t because of Winbush. Also, I don’t understand how in 8 years Kelly’s quarterbacks never progress and develop. They seem to regress, Chryst, Reese, Golson, Kizer, Winbush.
how is shaw the most dislikeable coach?! he handles himself with class. gets half the players notre dame does. the guy can flat out coach! brian kelly is an overrated ass who has NEVER won a big game! i am convinced brian kelly has pictures of the athletic director naked with a goat! that has to be the only reason he still has a job! he is on year 8 and notre dame is NO where closer than when he took over. fire his sorry ass now!
I agree. I like David Shaw. He’s low key. He’s pretty direct. And he’s successful with less as you say.
A constant arguments with the game officials… Cry every time something doesn’t go his way… Over rated Coach of the Year..
I’m elated with the hiring of Coach Kelly at UCLA. This will create parity in LA. Best news since Terry Donahue guided the Bruins. We went on a 10 game or more winning streak vs. Trojans.
Bk would be a good fit at Texas A&M
For those of you who still “don’t know what that means” (ha ha!) continue enjoying the delusion as you get pumped for the upcoming bowl game.
I don’t care. As long as he goes gracefully. Unfortunately I doubt we’d get a true winner.
Grace?! That’s important to you is it?
Sad game for sure. ND had their chances and they blew it. They even had a shot, albeit minimal, of getting back in the playoff mix with a win. But they failed to take care of business.
I see two huge plays that basically gave Stanford the game. One was the two penalties after the great punt return by Finke. FInally we had a meaningful punt return, all the way to the red zone, and 2 penalties later we have to settle for a FG. Then the turnover. I couldn’t believe it, the commentators just said there were no turnovers up to that point and the very next play, 5 seconds later, Wimbush throws an interception.
Why Williams was kept out of so many plays? Why is Wimbush another in a long line of QB victims under BK? Where was our elite O-line we kept hearing about? Just another disappointing end to the season. And unfortunately I don’t see that changing under BK. Worse, eventually when BK does move on I’m not sure who ND even turns to at this point to right the ship.
That’s not going to happen and don’t blame him why would anyone good want to play for BK every week I hear Williams will be a major part of the game plan abd then he’s 3rd string and lucky to get 3 carries and the Stepherson ordeal then throw in C.J Sanders even though he did fumble but I guy who was your starting slot receiver 2016 season opener who now only returns kickoffs so why would any kind of playmaker want to play for this coach we have sorry to say it cause I actually think the talent level has improved with BK but if you don’t use your best players then we’re always going to be 8 or 9 wins at best
The BIG ? Here is who will win the sweepstakes for the services of Amon-Ra St. Brown. He can do it all, pr’s ko’r, a total Hines Ward clone. It’s a good thing to have players that can play all four qtrs. Oh, and guess what Amon-Ra St. Brown will be winning the Heisman on His way to the NFL. Brown= St. Brown.