5 Things I Didn’t Like: Notre Dame vs. Stanford

Last week I said it was hard to find five things I didn’t like in Notre Dame’s blowout of Wake Forest.  Well this week this column felt like mission impossible when I first sat down to write it.  I had to get a little creative to find 5 things I didn’t like in a resounding win over the 7th ranked Cardinal of Stanford, but I think I found five things most of you will agree with.  I know at least two of them, everyone will agree with any way.

1. The Injuries

Winning didn’t come without a cost for Notre Dame.  The Irish suffered several injuries in the game but none were more serious than losing 5th year senior and captain Alex Bars for the year.  As soon as Bars got completely bent backwards everyone knew it was a bad injury.  When he limped off the field on his own we may have fooled ourselves into hoping it wasn’t but 300+ lbs men were not made to bend the way Bars ended up bending.  Devastating end to Bar’s collegiate career that saw him ascending up the draft boards this fall.

Notre Dame will move Trevor Ruhland into the starting lineup to replace Bars.  Ruhland has played well this year so in place of Tommy Kraemer at times for injury and at times for ineffectiveness.  In fact Ruhland started the Wake Forest game with Kraemer out last week.  He doesn’t have the size of Bars, but he does bring some more quickness to the line.  Kelly said sophomore Aaron Banks will get more work now as well.  Still, no way to sugarcoat losing a 5th year senior, captain along the offensive line.

It sounds as though the injury to Tony Jones Jr isn’t as serious as it looked thankfully but the Irish will be without Jafar Armstrong until after the bye week most likely.

2. Doug Flutie

I haven’t complained enough about Doug Flutie in this column, so we’ll devote an entire section to him this week.  He is awful.  Especially if you are a Notre Dame fan.  We all know that NBC wants to be impartial and not look biased towards Notre Dame even though they pay Notre Dame millions of dollars to be the exclusive broadcaster of Notre Dame home games.  Fine.  Flutie isn’t impartial though, he fawns over the opposition week in and week out and generally glances over Notre Dame’s big plays.

I tweeted about Flutie twice this week and this one got over 200 likes.

So Notre Dame fans tend to agree.  Amazingly some in the comments didn’t like Mike Mayock either apparently.  Personally, I loved Mayock because of the level of detail he provided and didn’t get any bias at all from him.  Flutie though, is just awful.  Mike Tirico on the other hand is pretty good as the play by play commentator in my opinion.  I know that might be sacrilegious given his Michigan ties, but that also just goes to show you that my thoughts on Flutie aren’t just fueled by me disliking anyone who isn’t a Notre Dame homer.

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3. NBC’s Coverage in General

While there isn’t a lot to write about not liking given the beating Notre Dame gave Stanford, let’s stick with the NBC coverage for a minute.  There were multiple instances of NBC not showing replays of some critical plays/penalties.  Take the block in the back on the Chris Finke for instance.  I’m not saying it wasn’t a block in the back, I’m saying I have no idea if it was since NBC never showed it.  How is the fan at home supposed to know whether or not they are supposed to angry about the call if there’s not replay.  The penalty wiped out a 33 yard punt return too so it was a big gain negated.  Show the damn replay.

In general it seems as though NBC puts very little effort into the broadcasts these days.  Remember all of those memorable intros back in the 90’s when the NBC contract was still new? And remember when they occasionally did a pre-game show?  With both teams in the top 10, how about a pre-game show on NBCSN?  I get that most years Notre Dame didn’t give NBC a whole to work with, but it would be nice to see NBC invest a little more into their coverage.

4. The continued lack of hold calls on Notre Dame’s opponents

Maybe it’s just me but it seems like this is happening at the NFL and college level this year, but it’s like offensive holding is barely getting called anymore.  At this point I am giving up on it getting called with any consequence against a Notre Dame opponent this year.  They did call one defensive holding on Notre Dame’s touchdown from Ian Book to Chase Claypool and there was one Stanford offensive holding penalty that was declined because they didn’t get the first down on the 3rd play it occurred on, but in general it just feels as though every week there are multiple pretty egregious holds that go uncalled.

5. Notre Dame & Virginia Tech’s wins getting next weekend the primetime slot

This is part me getting old and part me wishing Notre Dame could have avoided Lane Stadium at night when it will be even crazier.  With both teams winning this weekend, ESPN/ABC decided to make this game an 8:00 start time on ABC after they placed the game on a hold last week after Tech’s embarrassing loss to Old Dominion.  The Hokies won this weekend though and snuck back into the top 25 at #24 after beating Duke.  Pollsters must have forgotten that loss to Old Dominion already.

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Anyway, I generally don’t mind the late start times but three primetime games in the first half of the season is just a bit much for my liking.  Additionally, I would have loved for Notre Dame to avoid Lane Stadium at night.  That stadium is a bit less hostile during a day game, but at night it is going to be rocking.  We all remember what happened the last time Notre Dame went on the road at night in such an environment.

I get it though, with Notre Dame 5-0 fresh off a beating of Stanford and Virginia Tech bouncing back, it makes sense for the game to be an 8:00 kick-off.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t complain about having to stay up late writing about the game after another late start though.

That’s it.  That’ all I got this week.  There were things Notre Dame did wrong that I could have mentioned here, but you know what?  Notre Dame just beat the 7th ranked team in the country by 21 points.  The same team that has been a thorn in Notre Dame’s side for too many years, so we’ll let Brian Kelly and his staff worry about all that for this week.

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42 comments

  1. dj 2 months ago

    what’s your problem with Flutie. you and jeff both. give it up! he’s great. he doesn’t make stupid comments like, “the running back shouldn’t have fumbled the ball.” Like no running back has ever thought of that! he says, “heads up play by the linebacker to go after the ball when his teammate already had the tackle sealed.” if doug flutie is your biggest problem this season, then just leave the 5 things you didn’t like as 4 things and stop being a whiner about extraneous stuff. talk about ball!

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  2. duranko 2 months ago

    Pssst. Joseph Varese should post more often.

    I am a self-confessed dinosaur. I am more intrigued by what goes on during the unforgiving moment, the three
    hours of combat and contest and striving on the field of honor.

    I am an agnostic on espn-ism the tweet verse, the effeminated oohing and ahhing over what some announcer, fan or commentator said.

    What stirs my blood is men on the field, ’66 in East Lansing, ’69 Ohio State michigan, ’73 ND TIDE and many many more.

    This board, but not its fans, is at a tipping point. An article appeared earlier which attempted to incite a contretemps over a MISQUOTED and MISREPRESENTED
    (those are the mortal sins of journalism,albeit the twin virtues of ESPNism) out-of-context statement by Derek Mason of Vandy. The author knows who he is and how shameless an attempt that was to
    ESPNIZE this stie.

    Back to Varese and his pluperfectly clear statement on player development.

    And a quiz for this beautiful Autumnal Thursday.

    Which coordinator, since his hire, has been the most significant contributor to the current success of the 2018 Fightin Irish of Notre Dame du lac.

    Discuss among yourselves, but share you discussion.

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  3. Jeff 2 months ago

    I’ve been on the #fireflutie train for over a year now. Hell I’d settle for Pat Hayden over Flutie. As for NBC it used to,be great. The intros, the ND moments in history. No more. Notre Dame is no longer the nice place for opponents to play, NBC shouldn’t be nice to them either. To keep going, we have a new radio contract too. I miss Don Criqui and Allen Pinkett. Ryan Harris is ok, but the new play by play guy can tie Criqui’s shoes, yet alone Tony Roberts.

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  4. david 2 months ago

    Here’s something not to like. Wat if ND had lost to either one of Ball St or Vanderbilt…simply because they couldn’t score points. Could have very easily happened.

    And THEN Book took over, the next week and, say just for giggles, they proceeded to run the table, Some of them blowouts.

    11-1. A game late and a win short. Thanks to a head coaching brainfart by the gassiest head in the game.

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    1. ndcrazymike 2 months ago

      WAT ( WHAT ) if you would just go away, your not even smart enough to know when to quit!! WAT do you think we all know your a dope!! EVERYTHING YOU SAY IS WRONG!! And dopey davey STOP checking the LIKE box after one of your asinine comments we all know its you dope!!!

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      1. Bruce G Curme 2 months ago

        And we nearly did lose to Vanderbilt. Thus the change.
        David you could have argued after the Citrus Bowl to start Book in BK’s classic offense (+ a lot of Coach Long) and to put BW into the “three headed monster” , which runs perfectly well without any QB on the field at all, with a jumbo unbalanced line. But you did not, sir. I did though.
        But Coach Kelly and Coach Long knew they could beat Michigan with Wimbush (who took a hell of a beating in the game). But it was one of those games kept close only by a great special teams play by Michigan…like we did against a NC Nebraska team under Bob Davie. We really were NOT close in that game, which went into overtime. Take away TWO ST returns for scores, and it never gets close to overtime! The Michigan game was similar. Ball State…they all played like crap. they hit hard all game, but were just bad other than that. So BK gives BW one more look (along with the rest of them half the team screwed up, not just Brandon)! Then we stall again against Vandy, and almost lose…we almost got into a position with very little time on the clock and trailing by more than a field goal. So at that point, BK says “Go” to Book.
        Say whatever you want David – hindsight is 20-20, as they say. I like where ND is right now. I like the way it turned out. And I like that BW is still at ND too.

        BGC ’77 ’82

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      2. david 2 months ago

        The name crazy…..is that actually true? Medically diagnosed?

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      3. david 2 months ago

        Funny how rational and logical you make it all sound Bruce…simply and only because ND did NOT lose. Had they lost, which was my point, you’d have lost your mind, soiled your entire underwear wardrobe, and be crying in your beer all season.
        But you can’t think through a what-if scenario…because your mental capacity is too limited.

        You’re a bunch of transparent, predictable idiots with bipolar states..euphoria and depression.

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      4. Bruce G Curme 2 months ago

        David, if you are referring to me, I am medically diagnosed three times…the first in 1974. The third time they got it exactly right…Bipolar One disorder around 2009. My father was also similarly diagnosed…and even though he was never diagnosed, my father’s father, who died 10 years before I was born, almost certainly was bipolar. Personally, I prefer Manic-Depressive to “bipolar”, but “crazy” will do.

        BGC ’77 ’82

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      5. Bruce G Curme 2 months ago

        And David, I guarantee you that more “scenarios” run through my bipolar manic brain every day than run through a “normal’s” mind in a decade. And I wish I could turn it off. Really, I do. Thus an attempted suicide rate of about 15% for untreated bipolar.

        BGC ’77 ’82

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      6. david 2 months ago

        No, it was crazymike…I was thinking that was dogballs obvious. Apparently not.

        You do seem pretty proud of it though. Good for you.

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      7. Bruce G Curme 2 months ago

        I am only proud of never going on disability and being a burden on the working people of this state. I am proud that I was able to make a contribution, David. Someone once said “A disability makes everything harder, but nothing impossible”. Oh yeah, I said that. I have quoted myself here.
        No one in their right mind would be pleased, let alone proud, to be mentally ill!

        BGC ’77 ’82

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  5. NemesisTheDestroyer 2 months ago

    I too am not a huge fan of Mr. Flutie’s commentary on ND games. Since NBC pays to exclusively telecast the home games, I would not be opposed to a little more bias toward ND, really no different from ND radio broadcast which have bias. Even if one of the crew on TV had a little bias and the other did not, I’d be OK with that. I didn’t mind Mayock though at times I thought he over analyzed the plays. Really unfortunate about Bars season ending injury.

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  6. Hank 2 months ago

    Tirico doesn’t have Michigan ties. He just lives there. He went to Syracuse. Anyway he’s not much better than Flutie. Thinks ND is located in South Bend and says it often.. I muted the entire broadcast last Saturday.

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  7. Fitz 2 months ago

    I’m pleased that the Hokies from Miscokee made it back in the Top 25 as if the Irish, LSU and Clemson win out it may come down to strength of schedule. Given its weak schedule to date and the remainder of the season I don’t see a good case for Clemson being in the top four.

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  8. david 2 months ago

    WRT Flutie…. Here’s one tidbit you fools just don’t get (and the list is long)….

    His commentary ability is irrelevant. Flutie is perfectly adequate. Why? Because whether NBC keeps him, or fires him on air, or replaces him next week with a talking goat, their ratings will be exactly the same. Because you idiots will always watch. No matter who or what you’re watching.

    It’s the same reason Kelly still has a job, despite being a terrible coach. Because you keep buying the tickets, the shirts, and put up with it like mindless masochists.

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    1. ndcrazymike 2 months ago

      OH so that’s why he’s still coach! I thought it was because he took us to our first NAT. TITLE GAME IN 24 YEARS!! OR because we have only had 1 losing season in his 9 years!! OR weve gone to bowl games 8 of 9 years!! OR we were ranked in the top 4 most of last year, and back to #6 this year!! Another mindless post dopey davey!!

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      1. Bruce G Curme 2 months ago

        And remember, 2012 was the last year for the BCS. Although Alabama waxed us, WE WOULD NOT HAVE HAD A SINGLE APPEARANCE IN THE WHOLE SERIES IF NOT FOR BK AND THAT 2012 TEAM. That was huge. And this year he has us in pretty good shape for the playoffs, No two point loss @Clemson…no one point loss to Georgia early in the season (thus far)…+ more depth, more experience, and no real weak units, Anita’s weird assessment notwithstanding. What’s not to like?

        BGC ’77 ’82

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  9. Doc Savage 2 months ago

    I think Mike Tirico more than makes up for Flutie but one has to say that Flutie probably still holds some animosity towards ND due to the fact that the Irish have a winning record over Boston College!

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    1. Greg Kelly 2 months ago

      And how about the Irish taking away Frank Leahy from BC.

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  10. Robert Rader 2 months ago

    Frank, you are 5 for 5 here.

    1. As for the block in the back, it was the first ND player back to block for Finke and he barely brushed by after Finke had already cleared the area, much reminiscent of the phantom clip that cost Rocket at TD and Notre Dame a National Championship against Colorado. NBC didn’t show it because they couldn’t find it. But you’re right; they should have shown the sequence to demonstrate exactly that point.

    2. NBC explained at the time that Maycock was dumped for Flutie because Maycock was too much x’s and o’s for the average fan and they wanted someone less technical. They got and the fans are the poorer for it. Maycock was great.

    3. Seemed to me that the push against Bars was sustained well after he was out of the play and his legs were pinned to the ground. If it wasn’t intentional, it was darn close.

    4. Agree that it is too much for fans and players to keep treating every game like a national gala; there has to be some normality to balance the hype of a nationally televised game in prime time. That said, at least it gives the Irish greater exposure for recruiting and prepares the players for the limelight of two games later this season we will not mention .

    5. The no-calls on holding are really an embarrassment to the game. Defensive holding against receivers gets much more stringent attention – but why? I assume Kelly keeps sending in film to fix this.

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    1. Damian Merillat 2 months ago

      I liked Mayock’s x’s and o’s. Football has a lot of rules and it’s nice to have someone there to break it down. I never thought it was too technical. I thought he had a nice balance. When you watch ESPN, or even FOX or CBS, they give you the same stuff depending on who’s calling. So don’t know why it was an issue here.

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  11. Sal Somma 2 months ago

    Exactly right on a few points. If you watched the recap on ESPN Sunday you would have thought Stanford won the game. They got all hot and bothered about the Love TD.

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  12. david 2 months ago

    Main one? Comatose Kelly is still cashing cheques.

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  13. Damian 2 months ago

    Oh, and another thing I didn’t like has to do with one of our local news stations. The sports guy on the local channel said ND has an easy schedule from this point forward. Huh? While it may not necessarily be as grueling as it looked like it could have been, I’d hardly call it “easy.”

    I live in Penn State country though. And sometimes they don’t hide their animosity toward ND all that well.

    You know what really ticks them off though? When I bring up that I don’t really care about PSU. I started following ND closely in 2002 (a little bit in the late 90’s). We’ve played PSU twice in that time period, so needless to say when I think of ND’s rivals, PSU doesn’t really come to mind. That drives PSU fans right up the wall, that they’re not significant enough in the ND world for me to ‘hate’. I save that for the likes of Michigan and Thug U (and USC, but on a different level). PSU, whatever.

    Now, that’s not to say I wouldn’t love the occasional ND-PSU game. Since I live in PSU country it’d be great for me to see personally. It could be fun and it’d probably be a good game.

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  14. brandon 2 months ago

    Agreed on Flutie, time for him to go. I loved Mayock, disappointed to see him go. Tirico is great. This Va. Tech game scares me, reminds me of Miami all over again. Let’s hope I am wrong.

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    1. ChrisJ 2 months ago

      Mayock was the best. Never took a side and broke down each play in depth with true football knowledge. I don’t understand the Mayock haters. Because of the unusual way he talks??

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  15. Michael the Archangel 2 months ago

    I wondered where this week’s column would go, but I have to agree with those five dislikes, Frank.
    Huge loss with Bars injury- as a leader as much as a pre-season All American OL. That Liberty Bowl loss for Dougie, and him being a BC alum, might be two reasons for his not-so-subtle passive aggressive diminishing of NDs successes. He mostly tries to hide it with praising the opponent even after ND has made the play. But haters gotta hate; he’s just creative about how he hates.
    You shouldn’t have to mute the play-by-play when watching your team play on their home network, but I find myself doing that for most of the ND games. Watching the replay of the game later is when it becomes most obvious. I still believe that ND purposely puts BC and SC alums as color commentators ( not a big Mayock fan, but better than Hatin’ Haden and Dougie) to appease and keep on board those who tune in to cheer for whomever ND is playing. “It’s business; don’t take it personally” ( Godfather II).
    I also agree with Chris that the 4th and one QB sneak is an effective play call in that situation, especially with the bulk in the middle of the ND OL, with some huge TE lined up as FB behind the QB as the pusher man. The handoff to the back five yards behind the snap just gives blitzing LBs and Safeties the time to provide the momentum to clog up the middle. Now a seal block and sprinting to the outside may be a gamble, but with Dexter’s and Jafar’s speed, it could lead to a TD, not just a TD, but that gamble would be loudly criticized if it backfires.
    And the non-holding calls do negate NDs impressive consistent pressure that the DL puts on.
    Being a White Sox fan, baseball season has been over for me for a while. Watching the dominant Ds from the Bears and ND has dulled that pain. Watching those Ds leave QBs gimpy and tentative bring back flashes of those Super Bowl shufflin’ ’85 Bears . . .

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  16. ndcrazymike 2 months ago

    FRANK again great article!! You have the pulse of all the ND fans and tell our feelings perfectly!! Your right about the officiating every week there’s penalties and plays on NBC broadcasts where they show no replay!! I still believe not being in a conference gives us the short end of the stick with the officiating!! IM not advocating to be in a conference , just making an opinion!! You can’t tell me that the play where BOYKIN made the catch 2 yards ahead of the first down marker and was pushed back 3 yards was marked by the official short was an honest call!! Without a review we would have been screwed!

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    1. Ron Burgundy 2 months ago

      Without a review ND would have been credited with an INT that bounced on the ground 15 times.

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      1. ndcrazymike 2 months ago

        Without a review we wouldn’t know your an idiot!! STAY CLASSY RON BURGUNDY AND STICK WITH YOUR STUPID ONE LINERS!!!!

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      2. ChrisJ 2 months ago

        Sorry Burgy but that’s a bad comparison. NDCrazyMike’s point is the Boykin catch was literally right in front of him a few feet away and clearly Boykin not only first got hit two yards beyond the first down marker but ALSO reached the ball back across the first down marker by at least a yard as he was being dragged out of bounds. This should have been very obvious whereas the INT replay by Hayes you would only be able to tell by replay that it wasn’t a pick because of how Hayes was blocking views of refs that were MUCH further away from the play. NDCrazyMike is saying that sometimes the obvious calls are not going ND’s way and it takes an unnecessary replay to overturn it.

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      3. Bruce G Curme 2 months ago

        You know, I can’t help but remember an atrocious spot on the final drive of a NAVY game that gave us a first down we did not even get near to making…on fourth down, while trailing very late in the game. There was no review back then, so we won that game. A correct spot would have given NAVY its “streak breaker” game a lot earlier than it finally got it! TV review is a great thing.

        BGC ’77 ’82

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  17. Cig 2 months ago

    I think the lack of holding calls across the board — assuming that is true, I don’t watch much football anymore other than ND — might be part of a conscious strategy at further protection of QBs. Which is problematic, for sure.

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  18. Greg Kelly 2 months ago

    Push mute if you hate Floozie so much. Works great for me. I mean if you don’t know anything about either team it may be ok to listen in. Take last week we all know a lot about Notre Dame and the Tree. Perfect game to be on mute. This week vs,. Va. Tech that I know nothing about I may tune in. If it gets biased it gets on mute.

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  19. Damian 2 months ago

    Yeah, I can’t stand NBC these days. I’m not a big fan of Flutie or Tirico (maybe Flutie’s poisoning the whole thing and I’m not being fair). But yeah, Flutie seems to actively root for the opposing team.

    I don’t have a problem with NBC being impartial. I don’t expect them to ‘root’ for ND. But for years now it seems they actively promote the opposing team. I’m with Frank on Mike Mayock, I thought he was pretty good and he was knowledgeable about the game. And he had no problem giving out kudos to ND when they made a good play, unlike Flutie.

    It’s sad when ESPN is more impartial with the ND games they broadcast.

    I didn’t have too many complaints about the game. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall and thankfully it didn’t. ND played well in all 3 phases. I could nitpick individual plays, but they had a pretty dominating win over a top 10 team so I can’t complain.

    Well except for one thing maybe. I wish they’d find a way to get BW in the game. He was seen on the sideline a couple times during the game. I can see it in his face already, that look of ‘I wonder where I can transfer to next year’. Because mark my words, if ND doesn’t find a way to get him on the field or convince him to take on some other role in the offense, he will be playing somewhere else next year.

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  20. ChrisJ 2 months ago

    #6, Chip Long not calling a QB sneak on 4th and a half yard on our first drive. Coaches have seriously lost their minds in overthinking these play calls on 4th and less than a yard. In college now, you are actually allowed to have your teammates push you forward from behind. So when would literally any team be stopped at a half yard if they put two of their biggest lineman or two tight ends behind the QB under center and ran the sneak play with the QB now being allowed to get pushed forward as well. My guess is this is literally unstoppable 100% of the time. I NEVER understand why on 4th and less than a yard that you would ever move the ball backwards (handoff). It makes no sense and really does drive me nuts. It’s not just our coaches. I see this stupid crap all the time from a lot of teams. I mean getting our run call stuffed made no difference considering the outcome of the game but that was a pretty big opening drive momentum shift at midfield because of a stupid call.

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    1. Jimmy 2 months ago

      Thanks Chris for letting my family know I am not the only one who goes crazy over these type of calls. I am just happy he opened up the playbook for the TE’s to get utilized more

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  21. fightinmad35 2 months ago

    I agree on Flutie.. NBC actually does a pre and post game show on one of the NBC affiliate channels. I catch it every week.

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    1. A68domer 2 months ago

      They only do it when NBC is broadcasting the game. And not always.

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      1. Joseph Varese 2 months ago

        I confess that I am not much involved in listening to announcers and color commenters. That’s
        just background noise needed by some to enjoy the game. My comments have to do with the new
        success our current ND staff is having coaching up the players we have recruited.

        For too long here at home I have watched the coaching staff of the Wisconsin Badgers coach up 3 star recruits and preferred walk-ons and finishing the season ranked higher than ND with our top 5 or 10
        ranked classes. This year and last year I have finally seen a difference in Irish football. Our
        running backs find the hole, wait patiently for the block to be completed and explode through the opening. I have also watched Julian Love dominating talented receivers and his cohorts challenging
        receivers for the thrown ball like never before.

        Teaching football skills has not been a priority dating back to Charlie Weiss. Thank you coach Kelly for finally changing that culture and bringing ND football back to where it was back when I rooted for
        Ara’s teams as an undergrad.

        Recruiting is certainly important. But the unsung heroes so far this year are Autry Denson and Todd Light. I have seen more than one complaint about their recruiting skills. But not one comment on the
        quality of their tea teaching.

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  22. Damon 2 months ago

    Doug Flutie is the worst. NBC must be desperate, the little piss ant is never happy if ND is doing good. Fire him

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