This week’s edition of the Irish Blog Gathering is hosted by One Foot Down and asks us to ponder if we should be satisfied with any win over Navy. After back to back losses, we say just win baby.
1.) Coach Kelly refused to fall on the proverbial sword after USC. He felt that some of the players that needed to play with poise just didn’t. Do you agree or disagree? Did coaching play a role in our egg-laying against USC?
I didn’t really have too strong of feelings for this either way – it didn’t really bother me but I didn’t necessarily like it either. Kelly knows his players best and if he thinks he can motivate them this way, hey, more power too him. He also didn’t totally call them out and blame the loss solely on them. Kelly has been pretty good with taking blame when it’s been warranted so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here.
As for coaching’s role in the loss to USC. You bet. The defensive game plan was way too conservative and on offense I thought Kelly abandoned the run way too quickly. Even late in the game when Rees tossed the interception on 3rd and 1 with the Irish down 14 still, I thought Kelly should have called a run, got the first down, and then worried about the points. Jonas Gray was running really well and needed to get his number called a lot more when the game was still close.
2.) In their post-game interviews, Coach Kelly, Jonas Gray, Harrison Smith, and Tyler Eifert all called the atmosphere for USC “electric.” Coincidence?
I don’t think so. The word “electric” is always used by coaches and players to describe game time atmospheres and I heard many fans use the same word throughout the day. I will say the atmosphere walking into the stadium was unique to anything I’ve experienced at Notre Dame Stadium, but once USC jumped out to the 17-0 lead it really took the air out of the place and every time it was about to erupt again Notre Dame did something to take the crowd out of it.
Overall, I loved the night game experience and hope Notre Dame plans one a year from here out. There is so much to do on a Notre Dame weekend that it allows for people to take everything in but still have time to tailgate without having to get up at the crack of dawn.
Speaking of the atmosphere, I loved the pumped in music in concept, but Notre Dame needs to mix it up a bit more because if I hear Crazy Train one more time I might go insane.
3.) Is your faith in this coaching staff shaken after Saturday night’s debacle?
Not really. At the end of the day, for how bad the outcome seemed, Notre Dame was really only one bad snap away the game going down to the wire and I can’t blame the coaches for a senior botching a snap at the goal line. Notre Dame lost to a top 25 team that is loaded with talent and even with all of the mistakes that were made, they were about to tie the game at the end of the 3rd quarter.
Considering Notre Dame fell behind 17-0, it’s actually a good sign that the staff was able to keep them focused and able to rally back. In years past that wasn’t always the case.
Now, a loss to Navy this weekend would more than shake my confidence in the staff.
4.) Should we be satisfied with a mere win over Navy, or does it have to be somewhat convincing?
Satisfied? Yes. Happy about it? Not really. This is a bad Navy team playing without their starting quarterback. Even with both starting defensive ends out, there is no reason for Notre Dame to lose this game – especially with all of the motivation they have from last year’s embarrassing performance.
Given Navy’s recent success over the Irish, any win should be enough to keep the wolves at bay for another week, but in all honesty, there is no reason for this game to be close. Navy’s defense is not strong and should not be able to keep up with Notre Dame’s offense unless the Irish turn into a turnover machine again this week.
Defensively, if the Irish play disciplined, solid football they will be fine. Two freshmen at defensive end definitely worries me with Navy’s blocking schemes and tricky offense, but that’s why there are 9 other players on defense to step up.
At the end of the day though, it’s just like Al Davis always said, “just win baby”. Notre Dame HAS to win this weekend. I’m not sure recruiting could survive another loss to Navy this year and I don’t even want to think about what the forums will look like should Navy win a 4th game in 5 years. Wow. There’s a line I never imagined I would ever write when I started working with Kyle on UHND 12 years ago.
5.) Will the Irish shut down the vaunted Navy triple option, or are we in for a shootout?
Navy will rip off some yards and they will score some points, but if the Irish offense does it’s job, the Navy offense will be forced to pass more than they would like since they don’t like to pass at all. With a backup quarterback in, the freshmen on the defensive line can’t really be an excuse for the Irish defense to get gashed the way it did last year.
Air Force moved the ball easily at times on Notre Dame before the Irish forced a few turnovers and put up a pile of points of their own so some adjustments will need to be made by Bob Diaco and staff. Diaco adjusted very well to the option last year against Army after seeing his defense get worked by Navy so hopefully we see another improvement like that this weekend.
6) Take us out with a quotation, clip, or photo to summarize your post-USC/pre-Navy state of fandom.
I’ll go with a great Ricky Bobby quote – “I just wanna go fast” because really, I just wanna have fun watching Notre Dame football games again. The games this year have been beyond frustrating because the talent is there but Notre Dame just keeps shooting itself in the foot time and time again. If they can just eliminate the mistakes they can turn this season around and still manage to get into a solid bowl game where they can end their season on a high note again this year.