Duranko’s Digest: What did we see in Tallahassee?

Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) during pre game warmups before their game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) during pre game warmups before their game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Jameis Winston led three excruciating, Heisman-quality drives of 70 yards or more to lead Florida State to a comeback 31-27 victory over the Fighting Irish, extending the Seminole win streak to 23 games and leaving them as one of just four unbeaten major college teams. The Fighting Irish, big enough for the potentially unforgiving moment ended the game on a late drive which got them to the Florida State 2 before a penalty erased what would have been the game winning touchdown catch by emerging star Corey Robinson for the Irish. As if a momentary glimpse of the afterlife, we all enjoyed a few seconds of the euphoria of victory before that cursed yellow rag ended the reverie. Scoreboard rules: Florida State 31- Notre Dame 27.

Brian Kelly stated that he wanted to start the game fast, and, but for an opening three and out, the Irish did so on both sides of the football. The Irish defense, dominating the Florida State veteran offensive line, forced the Seminoles into three rare three and outs in the first half, and a one and out, when Jarron Jones bench pressed the Florida State center back into Jameis Winston, forcing a wobbly throw that Joe Schmidt intercepted. In the first half, the Irish outgained the Seminoles by 284 yards to 110, the fulcrum for which was the Irish running attack, keyed by the ever-improving offensive line, which led the way for the Irish to outrush the Seminoles by more than 100 yards, 157 to 50. Yet at halftime the Irish lead was 17-10, less than commensurate with the yardage differential, and a warning sign for the second half.

Florida State played the second half like a defending national champion trying to protect its house. Notre Dame had many great moments, but two especially gutsy responses in answering challenges. The first was, after Golson’s interception, Jones’ remarkable pass rush which compelled the interceptioon by Schmidt. In two plays the Irish had a touchdown. Then, after Florida State, and Winston’s magic, tied the score to start the second half, the Irish responded with a touchdown drive of 75 yards in 7 plays to regain the lead 24-17. Alas, it was the last Irish touchdown of the evening. After that, the Irish defense forced two three and outs but they were layered between two touchdown drives by Florida State.

Football games are about football, not sainthood or the Nobel Peace Prize. Jameis Winston is a great football player. He took repeated hits and repeated pressure from the Fighting Irish defense.

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Florida State won the football game and to the unbeaten victor go the spoils (and the pole position for the Final Four). Florida State did not prove that they were the better football team. Nor did Notre Dame.

A STAR IS BORN.

You know the cliches. Pressure makes diamonds. Football does not build character, it reveals it. Corey Robinson, just one week after his fellow soph Tarean Folston, “arrived.” Somewhere between 2 and 3 touchdowns, give or take a penalty. And Robinson did it ow what has been college football’s biggest stage thus far this year. Does he reap benefit from the threat of Will Fuller? Does yin need yang? Does hydrogen need oxygen to make water? Robinson’s biggest improvement is his running after the catch; while not a blazer he has good vision and squeezes for the extra yards.

Notre Dame’s offense has, at last arrived. We will not face defenses of the same magnitude as Stanford’s and Florida State’s for the rest of the regular season. 21 soaking wet First Downs against Stanford, 26 against FSU. One final flag from red zone perfection. Notre Dame’s defense is getting better as the season goes on. We will not face a better offense in the regular season, and we may not face as good a quarterback as Winston in the next Olympiad. The continued offensive improvement, keyed by the offensive line, will only help the defense, and vice versa. The defense has tradeoffs. Pressuring the passer creates openings and opportunities. Winston took advantage of the opportunities. Reynolds (Navy), Bercovici (ASU) Siemian (Northwestern) Gardner (Louisville) and Kessler (USC) can not. A postseason game, or, perhaps, two, may be a different kettle of fish.

What did we learn about the Notre Dame team on Saturday:

(1) They can play a quality opponent on the road, even with flamin spears on horses and perpetual tomahawk chops

(2) The moment was not too big for the team, not even with the youth. And it was certainly not too big for Golson.

(3) The offensive line is improving weekly since the reconfiguration. Doubled Stanford’s rushing yardage, tripled FSU’s rushing yardage. Quod erat demonstrandum.

(4) 2012 was not a fluke, 2013 was

(5) This Irish team is much more athletic than in 2012. When we played FSU after the 2011 season, FSU had the vast majority of the best “ath-uh-leets” on the field. Not any more! That situation gets better all the time.

(5) The Irish are not yet at the mountaintop, but they can see it and smell it from where they are.

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BENEFITS OF THE SATURDAY WITHOUT A GAME

(1) avoid a letdown spot

(2) re-acclimate Eilar Hardy, needed for the stretch run

(3) get Hunter into the WR rotation, get Bryant closer to Folston’s level

(4) Continue the development of the frosh on defense: Trumbetti, Cage, Hill, Blankenship and Tranquill.

(5) get one or more of the backup tight ends ready to play.

(6) two more weeks of coaching and advancement of the complex defense.

WHAT WILL WE SEE AGAINST NAVY?

(1) A Navy team that is uncharacteristically below par, with a 3-4 record, with the wins against Temple, Texas State and VMI. Part of the reason is that Keenan Reynolds has not been as explosive as anticipated.

(2) FedEx field, which, following Lucas Oil and MetlIfe is the third NFL stadium in which the Irish have plaed this year.

(3) the fun of watching Brian Van Gorder’s defense and what will be a different approach against Navy. It will be aggressive, with Jaylon Smith, James Onwualu, Cole Luke, Elijah Shumate and Max Redfield flying around making tackles. A great game to get Eilar Hardy back up to speed.

The extra week of preparation will only help the Irish with the assignment football necessary to play an academy. We may give up a long play or two, but we will not play into Navy’s strategy of “death by a thousand cuts.”

(4) A Navy defense that can not stop the Irish offense. Can not. Notre Dame has only punted 4 times in the four games against Navy in the Kelly regime, including the 2010 nightmare in broad daylight in the Meadowlands. We will move the ball and we will score.

(5) Injury risk from cut blocks.

(6) A realistic chance for Malik Zaire to get some snaps and some passing plays. It will help the team and his career if he can have some significant snaps in this game. 6-1. Nearly 7-0, but 6-1. There is still much to play for this year.

Up your game lads; the team sure has

Go Irish!

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61 Comments

  1. HEY, JA. ALL CAPS ARE NOT MEANT TO SHOUT. I BROKE 4 FINGERS ON MY LEFT HAND. NEVER REALLY HEALED RIGHT. HAVE TO USE MY RIGHT HAND ONLY, MAKES IT EASIER AND FASTER TO TYPE, THAT’S ALL. RON, YOU BETTER DOUBLE UP ON THE ZOLOFT!, BUT HEY WE ARE ALL IRISH FANS, RIGHT!

  2. HEY, RON, FIRST TRY USING YOUR REAL NAME, NEXT TRY A ZOLOFT, SINCE YOUR COMMENTS MAKE ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. OH, I FORGOT ONLY YOU GOT THE CALL RIGHT, ORIGINALLY. EVEN THOUGH THE ACC CHANGED THEIR MINDS , TWICE. MAYBE YOU CAN GET A JOB AS AN ACC REFEREE!

    1. It’s been a week Rick, please get over it. They called pass interference. Did I like the call, no, but by the letter of the law it’s a penalty. I’m as shocked as anybody they threw the flag in that moment. But it happened, move on. When I heard Lou say it was a penalty that was really all I needed to hear.

      And for the Pete of sake, learn to type with normal capitalization rules.

    2. As far as my real name is concerned. People call me the Bri-man. I’m the stylish one of the group. I know what you’re asking yourself, and the answer is yes, I have a nickname for my penis. It’s called the Octagon. But I also nicknamed my testes. My left one is James Westfall, and my right one is Dr. Kenneth Noisewater. You ladies play your cards right, you just might get to meet the whole gang.

      1. I think what the folks are really saying Ron is I SURRENDER! HOLD YOUR FIRE!
        I find your comments quite humorous. Keep up good work.

  3. HEY, RON. YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY NOT A NOTRE DAME FAN. GO TO ANOTHER WEBSITE ASSHOLE. TRUE IRISH FANS DON’T NEED YOU HERE. YOU SOUND LIKE A BROKEN RECORD , SAYING THE SAME THING OVER, AND OVER. THE FACTS ARE THERE WAS NO OFFENSIVE PASS INTEREFERENCE CALL. THE REFS MESSSED UP. GET IT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULL!

    1. Mr. Robinson, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this site is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  4. patrickm, liked your post but I am completely bumfuzzled, in two parts.

    Perhaps it is a regional patois, but I’m a little fuzzy on
    “water under the tree.” Been there, done that with “water off a duck’s back” (indifference or immunity or psychological exemption) as well as “water under the bridge”, the past is the past, there are no dovers in life its own self. Hopefully you can elucidate.

    Of greater concern is the reference to Tombston: if that script is now our new scriptural text, who, precisely is who’s huckleberrry???????

    I got’s to know!!a

  5. The only way it makes sense to dwell on a bad call is if it motivates the team to win the next five games in order to force a rematch.

    After losing a big game due to poor officiating, a team can lose heart. In this case we may see an improved and more focused Irish team.

  6. What I saw at FSU was a royal screwing by the refs to take the game away from the Irish. Maybe I should get over it but that ain’t happenin’ anytime soon.

    The argument that ND had other chances to win this game is just silly.They did just what they had to do to win this in the last quarter. Kept FSU in check their last possession and did exactly what championship teams do. Drove the field under 3 minutes and put the game winning touch on the scoreboard. The call was chicken shit at best especially at that point in the game. ND nation should be outraged with the call.

    It may have cost ND a shot at the playoff not to mention a cost to EG for the Heisman. It would have been his fourth TD for the game and he would have been thrust into the national conversation as a leading candidate.

    ND was the better team hands down. Simply they got jobbed, big time.

    1. If they were the better team hands down it wouldn’t come down to a bad call. They could’ve scored on the other 3 goal to go downs and also could’ve given up less points.

  7. HEY, RON. YOU MUST BE A GENIUS. THE ANNOUNCERS SAID THE CALL WAS ON PROSISE ORIGINALLY. EVERY REPLAY FOCUSED ON HIS BLOCKING THE F.S.U. CORNER BACK. KELLY HIMSELF ADMITTED THAT THE REFS TOLD HIM THE CALL WAS ON PROSISE. ONLY YOU KNEW IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARD THAT THE CALL WAS ON FULLER. NEITHER ONE WAS A PENALTY, RON. AS AN IRISH FAN YOU NEED TO TONE IT DOWN A LITTLE. OBVIOUSLY WE MUST ALL MOVE ON AND HOPE THE IRISH WIN OUT THE REST OF THE YEAR. THAT STILL DOES NOT CHANGE THE INCOMPETENCE OF THE REFS. DOES IT , RON?

  8. Exactly and it was called by an official who had the least visibility to see the play, the furthest one from the play, and the one who has a history of questionable calls against us, Tuitt ejection and Michigan 2013 on Bennett Jackson interception. It was also not called by the officials with the best angle and near the play who did not throw flags. Also I am tired of hearing how one call should not make a difference in outcome, but when one call is made at the end of a game with two and I am being generous here To Florida State, evenly matched teams it does make a difference.

  9. For those of you who want a legit analysis of the last pass interference penalty on us, here it goes…

    The pass interference was called on Will Fuller, not CJ Prosise like many still think. ND lined up in a bunch formation with Fuller split out wide, Prosise in the middle, and Robinson closest to the line. FSU was playing man to man coverage across the board. The DB covering Prosise was playing press coverage right on the line of scrimmage. Prosise’s route was to go straight in the endzone and turn around as one option for Golson, basically make himself as big as he could and box out the defender. No flag could be called on Prosise because of the press coverage so contact was obviously going to be made there and Prosise fighting for position in the endzone was completely legal.

    Now on to Will Fuller…his DB guarding him was playing off a couple yards. Fuller’s route was a slant more towards the back of the endzone as another option for Golson. Fuller’s DB was clearly playing inside leverage on him. If you go back and look at the play in slow motion, Fuller takes two steps and attempts to make his cut on his slant pattern. Right before he makes his cut, the DB takes a step to the inside to prevent him from running his route, which cut his route completely off. Clearly there was going to be contact since the DB attempted to take that away. This is not interference on either of their parts. The DB did his job by cutting Fuller’s route off.

    Now to Robinson…he was clearly the hot read for Golson on this play and it worked to perfection. As stated, Robinson was lined up on the inside of the bunch formation and his route was to simply go lateral to the flat once Prosise cleared. The DB guarding Robinson never would have even had a change to get around his own teammates to get to Robinson because of where they were positioned. You can see the DB guarding Robinson was trying to run around everyone and wasn’t even close, leaving Robinson wide open. This is what the FSU players were so mad about is because they didn’t attempt a switch in coverage. You can clearly see the FSU players yelling at each other, not the referrees which all of the commentators had people thinking.

    Kelly was absolutely right. FSU blew the coverage bad and got rewarded for it. One of the worst calls I’ve seen in college football period at a time like that. This goes along with the phantom pass interference flag on Miami in the OSU championship game.

    1. Your spot on except Darby, who was covering Fuller, is the one who blew the coverage. He is supposed to get wide with CRob and push his man to PJ Williams who was trapped in the back. Other than that perfect explanation.

    2. And, you can see Prosise drop his arms down by his side before the ball comes out to show he is not blocking. However, the FSU defender is draped all over him at that point.

      1. Hmmm, heard a radio interview Tuesday saying that ACC officials changed it BACK to saying it was on Prosise.

        Doesn’t really matter, since both looked guilty from the angles we saw that night, then looked innocent upon closer review and other angles, and the game is over. We move on.

    3. Very well explained. Would add, you can clearly see head ref coming up to back judge Pat Ryan (not same as former ND LB, btw) asking “Are you sure?” Back judge emphatically nods yes. But was interesting ref was doubting the call.

      Hey, water off the tree, “Lets finish this!” As Wyatt said to Doc at end of Tombstone. Win out, we gotta be in.

  10. I don’t doubt Kelly’s righteous indignation. The refs were wrong. But Kelly is nothing if not calculating.

    He has two weeks to motivate his team for the stretch run. They have been disrespected, they have been done an injustice, and they have a mission: to reach the playoffs and prove again what they proved on the field last Saturday.

    This team was consistently stronger on the line of scrimmage than FSU. It will get better. And Everett is at his best when the pressure is on. Wouldn’t an ND-FSU championship game be a grudge match to remember?

  11. Durenko,
    Tell something we don’t already know. Boring–interview omeone.
    Say something that gets our attention.

    A very mundane article.

  12. You make a excellent point about getting Hunter up to speed in this offense. I think he is the best option in the slot even over Amir. CJ is very physical in the run game but he has bricks for hands. If Hunter can ever get healthy he could be the most explosive WR on the roster even over Fuller.

  13. THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT THE REFS STOLE A VICTORY FOR THE HOME TEAM. IF YOU WATCH THE PLAY IN SLOW MOTION, THE F.S.U. DEFENSIVE BACK EXTENDS HIS ARMS AND GRABS HOLD OF C. J. PROCISE. PROCISE MERELY DRIVES FORWARD TRYING TO RUN A ROUTE. RIDICULOUS CALL AT THE END OF A GREAT GAME. RUB ROUTES ARE CALLED IN EVERY GAME, COLLEGE OR PRO. THEREFORE A PENALTY COULD BE CALLED ON EVERY PASSING PLAY. I WATCHED GREEN BAY AND DENVER RUN PLENTY OF THEM YESTERDAY. THE TALKING HEADS CALLING THE GAME AND THE ESPN CLOWNS WHO COMMENTED AFTER WARD ARE SO BIASED AGAINST THE IRISH BECAUSE OF THEIR N.B.C. DEAL. ALSO , ON THE PREVIOUS F.S.U. SCORING DRIVE, THE IRISH D STOPPED F.S.U., BUT A MARGINAL PASS INTERFERENCE CALL WAS MADE ON ONE OF THE CORNER BACKS. SO INSTEAD OF A FIELD GOAL, THE NOLES WERE VIRTUALLY HANDED THE GO AHEAD TOUCHDOWN. I ALMOST FORGOT TO MENTION ALL THE HOLDING PENALTIES NOT CALLED ON THE F.S.U. OFFENSIVE LINE. NO WONDER WINSTON HAD SO MUCH TIME TO PASS IN THE SECOND HALF. NOTRE DAME WON THE GAME, ONLY TO HAVE THE REFS STEAL IT AWAY!

      1. ACC came out and said penalty should have been on Procise along with admitting they blew the no call on helmet removal. Bottom line is if it was that ambiguous it should have never been called that late in the game. The helmet removal was blatantly clear though and should have been called whereas the pass inter fence was called by the ref with the worst angle and furthest away and not by the refs with the best angle and closest.

    1. Mr.Rick Robinson…you couldn’t have said any better…I thought I was the only person seen that defensive hold on C.J Provide…but like you said…them acc refs gave Fsu that game.

  14. One addition to ” What did we see in Tallahassee”

    “What happened at the end was out of our control,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to put them away. You can’t leave it up to a decision at the end of the game.”

    This will be an oft-spoken reminder, I suspect, especially during preps for road games in Arizona and $outhern Cal

  15. re: earlier posts-
    I didn’t see BVG’s D’ scheme in the 2nd half as flawed at all.
    Winston’s superb accuracy, and the speed and quality of their WRs, and some “holding” off the blitzes, had mostly to do w/those completions in the second half. They have elite scholarship players, too- who are kept on the team- (ILB Jones w/6tackles vs. ND – back in time to play vs. ND, after practicing w/the team all 6 weeks he was “suspended”). Nor did I see play calling for ND as a deficit either- although I love EG out of the pocket- as he creates magical moments when on the move, and the pocket for a 5’11 QB can lead to- and did- several DL deflections. As for Joe Schmidt, our leading tackler for this game and the season, and the only player this week to get a TO (with a huge assist from Jarron Jones), don’t underrate, appreciate.

    Like duranko said, Folston and Robinson (and Jarron Jones as well) emerged establishing themselves as shining stars with their play these last two weeks, and no QB or D’ will present equal challenges compared to Winston or Stanford (though Louisville’s D’ looks good).
    But let’s not look too far ahead. Can’t wait to see Reynolds and Navy forced to react to BVG’s pressure, and not vice versa, like the last too many years. Watch your knees- linemen. Get low and explode through those gaps.They’re well-coached to “chop” you at every opportunity. Too many past ND linemen have had knee injuries- targeted by the chop-happy Middies.

    @duranko
    Your post made “my heart soar like a hawk”. (Chief Dan George- Little Big Man)
    And my heart needed that after Saturday night.

    1. It’s hard to see anything related to the DB’s on TV, but it seemed that the FS needs to come up a bit quicker on the ball. He’s great agains the run but doesn’t seem to have that “robber” skill set, yet. He’s a pup with lots of upside. Given all signs pointed to a great 2015, I’d say this year is exceeding expectations.

  16. I just can’t believe that these “acc refs” missed the defender rip his helmet off on the field. I don’t care about the OPI call against the Irish. At worse after they marked off the penalty against Notre Dame they should have had a first and goal at the 9 or 10 yd line with about 20 seconds to go because the defender took off his helmet on the field of play.

    1. Chill on the call, it’s over. Move on, everyone else is.
      I’ll tell you what the refs didn’t miss: 1st – 3rd goal. Score on those plays and it doesn’t matter. They also didn’t miss the 31pts given up by the defense.
      Plenty of plays out there that turn the outcome. To constantly whine about this takes away from how well they played.

      1. I think Brian Kelly would disagree with you about “moving on” considering his teleconference yesterday that might get him fined. You can’t miss that call in a game this HUGE. ESPN hyped this game up for a week and its a shame that these bad officials ruined a great game. These refs missed a good 5 holding calls that should have been called that no one except Mike Frank is talking about today.

        The entire country saw how well we played and I doubt if my comments will take anything away from how our guys played against the defending champs and I will not simply “chill”.

        Stay in your lane and I will stay in mine……Ron

      2. I’m a little concerned that BK isn’t letting this go. It’s one thing to have fans go on about this. But what message is BK sending his players?

      3. BK coaches illegal plays. Every 12 year old in peewee football knows YOU CANNOT HOLD OR JAM A DEFENSIVE BACK WHILE THE BALL IS IN THE AIR. It is in the rule book. Look for ND to get flagged on this repeatedly if this play is run the same way again now that the refs have been called out for prvious non calls. It is common knowledge that you can commit nearly any penalty against FSU and not get flagged. It is about time the non calls were called. Whiner losers don’t want a game called fairly by the refs.

      4. I agree with Kenny—

        and for the record–most fine
        coaches would have benched the likes of jameis.
        Football certainly reveals character and
        “jimbo” missed his chance.

      5. Why is no one talking about the 2 times fsu had 12 men on the field. The first was when ND punted with 5 minutes left. How about fsu db out of the endzone with the int??? Am I missing something GO IRISH

      6. Burgundy, that’s a stupid comment. It’s hard to move on from that type of loss. Sure there were missed Ops, but that’s why the game is played. Them boys practice too. It wasn’t 7-on-7, it was big boy football and the ref’s jobbed us on the call and on the no call for helmet removal. OPI only occurs when a player attempts to make an play and is intentionally impeded. No one bothered to cover CRob due to the blown coverage. No one was chasing CRob and intentionally impeded. That’s why its not OPI, read the rule. The helmet is self explanatory

  17. since I’ve been a critic, I have to tip my hat to the OL for last week’s performance. There were several future NFL’ers on FSU’s Dline and ND handled them well.

  18. I have been critical of Kelly’s play calling at times in the past, however, I thought he called a good game Saturday. Mixed the run with the pass. The key to me was not converting the 2 4th and 1 plays. Notre Dame converts those I think they win the game. The key now is how do they bounce back. Looking at the landscape I believe if Notre Dame wins out (a tall order)they will be in the playoff. No other 1 loss team can say they came within an eyelash of beating the number 2 team in the country on their home field.

  19. I can’t wait to see them again in the playoffs this year…if they can go undefeated that is. I am sure they won’t have a loss that is as close to a win as that game…Winston may not see the field again.

    UGH that hurt….

  20. I love the positive spin of this article. I was impressed by how the players responded to Florida State’s touchdowns in the 2nd half. There was no let down. No shoulder slumping or bewilderment. The only concern I took away from the game was how the coaching staff didn’t adjust after halftime. Kelly’s play calling did not impress me and looked predictable. FSU was leaving the middle of the field wide open chasing the crossing routes but it wasn’t exploited. Similarly, FSU’s offense attacked the middle of the Irish defense with great success. Van Gorder did not adapt after the 1st TD of the second half. This is a great time to continue building on the successful first half of the season. Go Irish!

    1. I must agree; it seemed like we got out-coached the second half. We did not adjust to their adjustments. Schmidt kept blitzing and, not having elite speed, just did not quite get there in time.

      But, but. We are looking for slim improvements here on an otherwise impressive performance, albeit gut-wrenching in it’s result. Go Irish!

  21. I tell ya Duranko, that Joe Schmidt kid gets no respect.

    Once again he lead the ND defense in tackles, was again one of the hardest hitters on the field, added a pick, and harrassed the FSU QB for much of the game.

    I’m kind of looking forward to watching him fly around the field against Navy.

    1. I like Schmidt as well but he can be a liability in the passing game. I don’t think anyone disrespects the kid. He is a good player who knows the defense in and out but he has to play better versus the pass especially with Arizona St and U$C coming up in the next several weeks to come.

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