Notre Dame’s Defense, is it scheme or talent?

Log onto any Notre Dame football board these days and this much is clear.  ND fans want a change at the defensive coordinator position.  Will that change ND’s defense into a top 20 unit?  Certainly other schools have done it.  UCLA’s defense has seemingly been born overnight, and Michigan is clearly a different unit than they have been in recent years.   All the examples have me thinking.   Is Rick Minter a poor defensive coordinator, or is ND’s experience lacking at certain positions?

My only issue with Minter’s defense this year is a simple one.   At times, I can not identify with any real gameplan.   Against USC, what was the game plan?   Was it to take away the middle of the field and allow USC to work outside?  Was it an effort to take away the run and make Booty beat us?   I wasn’t sure, and even after watching the game a second time, I still don’t know.   My inability to identify a gameplan certainly doesn’t mean one didn’t exist.   I will say this.  Minter has shown an ability to make half-time adjustments.   The Navy game comes to mind. In the first half of that game, ND was getting beat on the edge.   ND took away Navy’s ability to get inside, and Navy simply started getting to the corner.   Minter made a very simple, yet effective change in the second half.   He moved Ndukwe up to the LOS on the wide side of the field, and the move work perfectly.   Navy was shut down for pretty much the entire second half.  

What teams beat ND last/this year?   Michigan and USC.   Add Ohio State from last year’s Fiesta Bowl.  What do those offensive teams have in common?  The most obvious is their athleticism.  Speed and size at the WR position.    Troy Smith, Ginn, Manningham, Jarrett.   Speed.  Size.  

To me as I look at the current ND defense, I would say talent is more of an issue right now than scheme.

What specific talent?   A pass rush off the edge.  For me this is the single most glaring need, and something that would change the defense’s identify overnight.   Victor Abiamiri is a very good defensive end, and he will be a solid NFL player for years to come.   He is the only pass rusher ND has right now.   However, it is pretty easy to negate him when all a team has to do is double him.   Our lack of a pass rush has a cascade effect on the rest of the defense.  It gives opposing QBs more time to throw, and isolates an already suspect secondary.   I am sure some of you will throw out, “Well why then doesn’t Minter blitz more?”, and that is exactly what Minter can’t afford to do.   Blitzing more asks him to isolate his coverage more, or worse… gets his LBs on faster players in open space.   The truth is Minter has tried to blitz.   Often.  However, our players are not getting to the QB.  Anyone recall the UNC game?  I won’t call out any player, but I will say ND has been in place to make a play or two while blitzing and failed to make a tackle.  The result was a big play for the opposing team.  

If coaching/scheme are really so poor, how can anyone explain the development of Terrail Lambert?  Someone is coaching him, and he is turning into a pretty good college defensive back.  How about Derek Landri?  He is a very solid defensive tackle.   Landri is ND’s best defensive player, and yet I rarely see anyone commenting on how well he and Laws have played this year.   Notre Dame players have grown, and they have improved.  

Notre Dame’s defense will change.  Charlie Weis will see to that.  It will start with the addition of a great pass rusher.   Maybe the player already exists on the team, maybe someone like Kerry Neal will fill that role.   I don’t know where he will come from, but I am certain that we will have such a dynamic player very soon. 

Minter may not be the popular choice for a defensive coordinator, but until he has the horses to line up with Michigan and USC, I will give him one more shot. 

Post-Season Notre Dame Football Stock Report

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  1. Tim C. aka member of the Romeo Crennel Fan Club 11 years ago

    Another game tonight that proves what has been said many times…Defense Wins Championships.

    What i loved about Holtz is he wouldn’t live with a bad coordinator for half of a season, let alone two seasons. He would have taken over the defense mid last season and fixed it.

    Look at Minter’s experience. He isn’t a winner and it has been a long time since he was a defensive coordinator. His defensive coordinator experience mostly came at Ball State a decade ago. Look at his terrible records back then at Ball State. He wasn’t a winner there. His best years as a defensive coordinator were with Holtz in Holtz’s worst years: His last two at ND. He was in charge of the defense when they laid an egg against BC in 93 too. A decade ago, true freshman were redshirted and sat on the bench for a year. Many teams in this decade have proven that freshman can come in and make material contribution as true freshman. Minter can’t complain about a lack of talent given the lack of the freshman he played which he recruited. The other thing that Holtz did was to play lots of freshman as soon as it was clear we couldn’t win a national championship in prep for the next season. No change from Minter in personnel as the year progressed. It is hard to see the schemes on TV but in the games i’ve seen in person the last two years, the scheme issues are numerous. One shining example is Zibby. We haven’t been beaten by the run but rather the long pass and there are few cases where his blitzes work. Yet Zibby is always overplaying the run and bites on the play action. His angles are all wrong. When was the last time you saw Zibby put a John Lynch-like hit on a receiver vs running as fast as he can after they have run 40 yards down field. If he wants to play linebacker put him up there, but he is a safety. The weaknesses of his blitzes were extremely clear tonight against LSU’s size.

    With Charlie completely focused on the offense, he needs a winner to run the defense. And after tonight’s weak offensive 2nd half performance against LSU he needs to be completely focused on the offense. 1 first down in the second half. are you serious? If you watched any of the Oaks Christian games this year, Mr Clausen doesn’t know how to look off his recievers and will need to go through Charlie’s bootcamp just like Quinn did. It will be a full time job.

    Bring in Romeo Crennel. He is flailing up in Cleveland as a head coach. He and Charlie have been successful together before. He is a winner. He will push back on Charlie who is loading up again with offensive recruits vs defense. Send the ND jet up there to cleveland(not the one with bad karma that they sent to pick up Urban Meyer) and bring him to South Bend. No even better, send him directly to the Army High School All American Game and see who wants to come play for him at ND. *8-)

    Last season, Charlie seemed to call a lot more runs. We had 38 minutes of possession against USC last year for example. We showed again in the first half of the LSU game tonight that if we have 2/3 of the time of posession we can stay in the game. Not sure why he abandoned that model this year. it was working in the first half tonight again. You aren’t going to win a national championship if your offense needs to stay on the field 40 minutes a game to have a chance. Defense wins championships. We had a mediocre QB in 88 in the form of Tony Rice but he knew how to win. Against Michigan in the 88 opener we didn’t score a single offensive touchdown. But, we had a great defense. Defense wins championships.

    I’m worried for Charlie. He doesn’t know defense yet Defense wins championships. The biggest mistake he could make is sticking with a defensive coordinator for too long.

    Bring in Romeo!

    p.s. did anyone notice how much better the officiating was tonight at the Sugar Bowl than we usually get during the regular season. Do you know why? We had a neutral crew tonight, from the Big12. Our rocket scientist athletic director (who took a jet down to a womans soccer game during the middle of the urban meyer situation instead of sitting in Utah, overpaid and extended Bob Davie just when he finally had a good enough season to get us a free buyout, who last year extended the contract for a first year and first time head coach, and who this year negotiated us down to $4.5M from $14M per BCS game just as we are entering a period of going to the BCS almost every year) hires refs from the visiting team’s conferences from our regular season games. We decide as the home team what refs we will have. Why do we always have refs from the visiting team’s conference? Those were Pac10 refs last season who made the 3 missed calls on the play just before the Bush Push last year (they called time out with no time outs left- a penalty, Pete Carroll’s son-a USC coach was on the 5 yard line when that play was over- a penalty, the ball went out of bounds at the 2 yard line, not the 1/2 yard line as marked).

    p.s.s. did anyone else notice how good the oline looked tonight even in the face of consistant blitzes?

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  2. Cloudy 11 years ago

    Not to change the subject but this goes along with what Irish Realist and others have gone on about.
    I just read the transcript of Weis’s Tuesday interview on the state of affairs with ND football and one of the questioners asked about the way Weis’s image is perceived by the outside world. This questioner told Weis he was considered boorish, obnixious, a jerk and more and would he care to comment. Now, Eric Hansen has posted this in a column on MSNBC as if this was the important issue at hand with ND football.

    Good call I.R., many of these sports reporters and columnists don’t have a clue and are basically brain dead!
    I suppose if I had to answer mindless questions over and over again I’d become a little boorish too.

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  3. Dan Kordik 11 years ago

    I have to admit, there is alot of great info here! I too am torn regarding Minter. I see that last year, he only inherited two starters. But, his schemes have no imagination. He obviously lacks emotion and fire, something a young college player desperately needs. Our biggest issue on defense was NOT speed. AND, we did not look good defensively in ANY of our games this year. Our biggest issue was our linbackers. They are suppose to be big enough, tough enough and quick enough to take on the block, shed it and move to the next. They were going behind because they weren’t big enough to shed the blocks. I hate cutting the cord this early, but if Michigan and UCLA could make these kind of changes of defense, so can/should we.

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  4. Cloudy 11 years ago

    In paragragh #3 it should say “Alum Friend” not “alum fried”.

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  5. Cloudy 11 years ago

    Good call I.R. It really has been the overly enthusiastic media that began the hype of ND and then when the team couldn’t meet their expectations they turned on them, as if ND had gone out of their way to hype themselves. Where was it that ND claimed themselves number two in the nation? Sure, I was hoping it to be true too, but after the OSU bowl game most of us thought ND must have done something drastic to revamp the team over the spring/summer by the way most media talking-heads were going on.

    Mark May is the Bone-head (@&%$# him) of the group and lets not forget the prognosticators at NBC sports where they have ND Central. There is an article written about “Why ND shouldn’t be in a BCS Bowl” by the same sports writers who predicted ND’s great success. And, how is it that they trash ND without calling themselves idiots?
    Also they must not have known that USC lost to two unranked opponents this season (Tongue in cheek). If they did know, (Using a single finger.) where was that reasoning in the article? I’ll admit USC is a good football team but fair is fair.

    I was invited to the G Tech vs ND party by a Tech alum fried and through the entire first half the other Tech alums were screaming overrated and all sorts of trash (My good friend had the good sense to leave with me and go elsewhere.) and this hystaria was obviously preseason media induced. I know I never I never announced ND was ready for the elite rankings.

    When I first saw Quinn play under Willingham I didn’t see his potential. In fact, I couldn’t see him being a success under any auspices. He could only throw a ball hard and on a line, he seemed to have no poise or finesse. For what Weiss has done to transform a terrific athlete into a terrific QB is nothing less than brilliant. So on this (not to side with the media) maybe everyone thought, if Weiss can do that with Quinn over a summer maybe he will be able to transform the defense too. In that thought I would have no problem saying the D obviously doesn’t have the talent it really needs to be as successful; that it takes more than two or three quality players to pull it all together.

    Even after saying the above, I’m still not sure I like where Minter is going with the D schemes, so I reiterate; if there is a proven better defensive coach who wants to come to ND, hire him.

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  6. Irish Realist 11 years ago

    I agree w/ you about Quinn. No single player took more abuse that him this year. And no single player meant more to his team than Quinn did this year (or last year).

    Take McFadden away from ARkansas, and you have Felix Jones (the other 1000+ yd rusher)to take up the slack. Take away Troy Smith from OSU and any experienced QB could succeed w/ the all-world talents of Teddy Ginn, Jr, Anthony Gonzalez & Antonio Pittman (especially w/ the experience OL to prevent any pressure). As a matter of fact, word is that Ginn, Jr., Gonzalez & Pittman are all considering declaring for the draft this year (they’re all JRs).

    But don’t be suprised if Smith gets taken higher than most think. I’m starting to hear of him possible being a Top 5 pick based on his scrambling ability. The logic being that a team like Detroit could benefit from a dual-threat QB b/c their OL is atrocious and couldn’t protect a drop-back passer regardless of talent. I think everyone’s falling in love w/ the dual-threat this year b/c of Vince Young’s success lately. Of course Troy Smith (or most QBs for that matter) are as tall & big as Young.

    Any way, regardless of the LSU, game Quinn will do fine in life. However, the heat will be on Weis as he ushers in a new era players (for the most part). The haters will be chomping at the bit if ND finishes at or below .500 regardless of the inexperience at QB, WR, etc. I can hear Mark May, John Saunders & Tim Brando now, “Weis won w/ Willngham players his 1st 2 yrs & now he can’t win w/ his own”. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’ll only get better once more of these top recruiting classes hit the field, I just know how the press foams at the mouth when ND is on the ropes or deemed “overrated” even though they’re the ones that overrated them in the preseason.

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  7. Garvo 11 years ago

    No you haven’t I just did. I’ve been waiting just as long you Irish Realist and I guess the wait is going to continue. I work with and individual who is a OSU fan and yes give them credit is due. I will draw the line though when when the argument is used that Smith is the better QB. The other argument is that Quinn couln’t win the big game. Last time I checked it takes a team to win in football not an individual. I also think that Quinn was unfairly judged throughout the season. Every mistake that was made was looked at but everytime Smith made them they never said a thing. It’s too bad that character isn’t part of the game anymore.
    Well the season is over and the bowl game is left to play and like usual not one person thinks ND has a chance and oh yeh Quinn can’t win the big one. The game hasn’t been played yet and to be honest I really don’t care who wind. I think in the end Quinn will surpass Smith in the NFL. 4YRS of starting and the last 2yrs under Wies will show in the draft and the in the NFL overall. I guess we’ll see if the all the hardware that smith has will help in the draft. Will logic pervail? The hardware doesn’t mean a thing in the NFL. All they care about is winning.

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  8. Irish Realist 11 years ago

    I definitely agree w/ your point that it’s the lack of talent more so than Minter’s coaching. I also agree that this team was overrated from the pre-season. That’s the nature of the beast. The press can’t wait to elevate ND up w/ the elite b/c it’s good for college football & they can throw the “genius” term around when discussing the new coach. Then, once every publication has put Brady Quinn on their cover & pre-season ranked the Irish in their top 5, they can concentrate on waiting for the other shoe to drop & start piling on. Unfortunately, for Quinn, he had to be the brunt of the criticism when he was really ND’s saving grace.

    I often ask ND critics: “What QB could’ve done a better job & led to a better W/L record than Quinn considering his lack of support?”. I’m still waiting for an answer. I’m just proud that the Irish are finally beating teams that they’re supposed to beat…then we can graduate to beating the elite teams (one step at a time).

    Finally, this has to be a record for number of posts on a particular subject before a Notre Dame hater chimed in with their classless remarks. Saying that, I probably just jinxed it!

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  9. Garvo 11 years ago

    Good point and I wish I had the answers but like I said I’m no expert. I did see the second string a little and to be honest I was more impressed with them than the first string. Keep in mind that some of the freshman that play for USC were also being recrited by ND and well ND lost that battle and it showed.
    My other point is that the expectations are in my view are too high for this team. Sure I would like to see the freshman compete for the starting positions but again I can’t read Minters mind. The offense stumbled coming out of the gate and the defense really never showed up throughout the season. I really don’t think the freshman would have made a diff. this season anyway. Infact I would bet that ND would have a few more Ls to.
    All Iv’e got to say is Minter knows that if he can’t fix the problem then Weis will find someone who can. I really beleive that the defense was over rated talent wise. The last 2 seasons have proven that. Minter again didn’t have alot to work with but I beleive that will change sooner than later. At least he shouldn’t make any long term plans to stay at ND yet.

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  10. Irish Realist 11 years ago

    Yeah, seemingly ND has some excellent freshmen & recruits to help the D next year, but why didnt some of these highly touted frosh (McNeil & Walls, for example) break into the starting lineup this year? The only reason I ask this is b/c I noticed USC w/ true frosh peppered all over their starting lineup. This was due to injury &/or the freshmen flat out beat out the incumbent.

    So if ND’s D is average, at best, why can’t the freshmen HS All-American’s beat them out while USC’s freshmen overtake more talented players as 1st teamers. Maybe I’m comparing apples to oranges, but w/ NDs inferior talent vs. USC’s dearth of talent, it begs the ?.

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  11. Garvo 11 years ago

    Well everyone I beleive the point is made. The D isn’t good for many reasons.The most important one I would say is LACK of talent more than any other reason. The front line is good but not great. The linebackers are average and the secondary well need I say more. Not many of the D players will go on in the NFL do well. I know that coaching is a large part of the puzzle but you have to remember that Minter doesn’t have alot of talent and that was proven time and again during the season.This isn’t the defense that Willingham had when he first started at ND. Could the play calling be better well yes and no. I’m no expert but I beleive that there is serious help on the way with the incoming class of 2007. The talent at linebacker will improve including the secondary with the speed and including the D line. The expectations like always are too high and like always ND is held to a different standard than any other team in division 1A BALL. ND is either loved or hated and right now the media is taking their best shots and will continue to do so. It will never stop. Remember that ND set the standard at 11 national titles and 7 (different) heisman winners. This has pissed off alot of people and so what. Weis will have the team in the hunt again and he knows you have to have a defense to win national titles. He learned that in the NFL. Weis KNOWS how to win.

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  12. Irish Realist 11 years ago

    Oops, I meant to say Toryan Smith as the LB to be, not Morrice Richardson who is probably going to be used more as a rush end.

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  13. Irish Realist 11 years ago

    Nate leads me to a forgotten point: this D hasn’t seem to gel as a unit. They have some talent that will play in the league, but they never seem to be on the same page. Maybe that’s due to the DC’s schemes or their communications break down b/c some of the starter are still learning new positions (Ndukwe, Travis Thomas). Only the players & coaches know the root of the problem, but they obviously haven’t found a solution.

    I understand that Thomas will be returning for a 5th year but will move back to the offensive side of the ball. Hopefully, Morrice Richardson or one of the other LB recruits will step up and make an impact. This would allow Crum to move from Mike LB back to his original position where he seemed more comfortable & his lack of size wasn’t as exposed.

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  14. Nate Schardt 11 years ago

    The D according to scouts has at least 5 NFL players on it. Everyone says the teams we lost to are great well they are good but we are getting blown out. The D stunk against bad teams such as NC Mich St Purdue Navy Air Force. There are a lot of pretty good defenses out there with no NFL players on them and I don’t think the other 6 defenders are that bad. The linebackers are weak but still. I want a change at coordinator!!!!!!!!!

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  15. Cloudy 11 years ago


    10-2 Rutgers / 10-2 ND
    ND losses were to Michigan and USC, Rutgers losses were to Cincinnati and WVU. I’m finding it difficult to see your point. Not that the Big East is “Least” however it’s not ultra potent. In watching this years Rutgers team I thought they played well and not over their heads. If they had played over their heads, as you state, they would have had a few more losses. The Rutgers defensive players have talent. Maybe not like USC, Michigan, or Ohio State but they do have talent. If it is that you think Minter is a bland personality coming off the page, I wouldn’t know. If your talking about strength of schedule vs talent I think the boat was missed.

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  16. Chris 11 years ago

    Rutgers has minimal talent compared to ND’s defense but they have a gameplan every game and are coached to play over their heads for an entire 60 minutes and come to play every game. Their play makes ND look like a division II team literally many games this year. After reading an article earlier in the year on NBC Sports interviewing Minter, it was crystal clear this guy has no energy or emotion. This transends down to the players. If Weis doesn’t jettison Minter in this off season, we’ve got bigger problems than just Minter.

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  17. Irish Realist 11 years ago

    The overall tone of all the posts seems to be that we shouldn’t expect the bowl losing streak to end in January (maybe I’m reading too much between the lines). I think we are all conditioned to expect another embarrassing blowout vs. a team w/ elite athletes. My guess is the score will be in the neighborhood of 42-21 w/ NDs last 2 TDs coming in the 2nd half when LSU plays prevent zone knowing ND has to pass every play. I can’t believe the spread is only 8.5 (at last glance).

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  18. TJ 11 years ago

    I’m sorry, but I feel it is almost entirely coaching responsible for our defensive woes. To say that we only lost to Michigan and USC completely misses the point. The only team we were able to stop defensively all season was Army (and we even let them score first). We made teams like Purdue, Mich State, UNC, and Navy in the first half look like offensive juggernauts. The Michigan and USC games were essentially over in the first quarter. Air Force had a season total of five hundred some yards passing all season when they came up against ND. They got 200+ passing against us. They hadn’t been playing all defensive powerehouses before us. It’s all well and good to say that Minter makes good halftime adjustments, but against the good teams (USC, Mich), the games are so out of reach they could put their scout offenses in by the second half.
    One of the comments mentioned how good Zibby, Ndukwe, Landri, Abiamiri, and Lambert were doing. That’s because they’re great athletes. They probably all have a future in the NFL. I don’t think we were able to crack the top 75 in any defensive category this year (after the season got a few games old) with these great athletes. By the way, I never thought Minter was a very good defensive coordinator when he was last at ND.
    Charlie has done a wonderful job and I hope he’s around for a long, long time, but I hope he’s learning that to win everything, you need a good defense and good special teams. There really hasn’t been a defense that could shut us down (after the first couple games rust fell off), but you can’t expect an offense to put up 40+ points every week to make up for week defenses and special teams.

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  19. JT 11 years ago

    After reading a few posts, one thing stood out at me. the Irish beat who their supposed to beat. I mean its hard to lose to the service academys. I really think ND is in for a long night in New Orleans vs LSU. LSU has a VERY fast defense and their QB is hard to bring down. He’s not JD Booty, it normally takes 2 people. I expect to lose this one by 3 TD’s.

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  20. Cloudy 11 years ago

    Well unlike Domers2, I’m hoping that the ND players and coaches don’t read these notices at least not until Jan. 4. They have enough to live with and I don’t think our questioning the coaching staff is a benefit to their psyches.

    I like the thought on how they should (ND offense) change up on a lot of what they’re doing. Yes, how about a few option type plays vs LSU. Slow down that rush, make’m think before they move. If they haven’t the speed and are a step slow on the O Line it would appear they need to have a better plan. I’m sure Quinn could use a few less bumps and bruises. From what I’ve seen with LSU, they like to hit and hit hard. Not that other teams hadn’t done that, it’s that they seem to have a proclivity for collisions. GO IRISH

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  21. Lefty 11 years ago

    Great comments from everyone. I remember wondering when I turned on the TV to watch ND v. USC if it would be pitch over the top of the secondary. I agree that in the big games ND looks like it doesn’t have a scheme at all for defense. Maroney makes a great point about Illinois defense vs. OSU, you have to have the gameplan in place to win on defense. I am crossing my fingers we don’t get shelled by LSU.

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  22. Maroney 11 years ago

    Good points all around. I agree with Hank that as soon as Weis sees Minter as a liability, he’s gone in the blink of an eye. He obviously still has some amount of faith in him, but Minter no doubt has to take a large portion of the blame for the way the defense has played the last two seasons. I do concur that speed and athleticism play a role. This defense has physical players that can stop the run, but in the age of the spread offense that’s not as much help as it would’ve been ten years ago. However, I also think that well-coached players and an innovative gameplan that keeps the offense on its heels can overcome inferior athleticism to an extent. Look at Illinois’ solid defensive effort against OSU this year. I refuse to believe their starters are better than ND’s. Speed and athleticism help cover up mistakes made by the players and flaws in the gameplan – a luxury which ND doesn’t have at the moment (though it looks like things are moving in the right direction).

    On a side note, I’d like to point out to Scott the linebacking corps in the mid-90s of Kory Minor, Kinnon Tatum, Lyron Cobbins, Jimmy Friday, etc. wasn’t so shabby either.

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  23. Scott 11 years ago

    I agree with the aforementioned lack of speed across the entire defense and a lack of a solid front four pass rush. But, my perception of the problem starts and ends at the linebacker position. I feel like ND suffers from a lack of 3 talented linebackers. Crum has been forced inside and Thomas was moved from running back to line backer due to lack of talent.

    It has been since the days of Michael Stonebreaker (no better name for an LB in my opinion) that ND has had a solid core of backers that had run stopping, blitzing and coverage capabilities.

    As a case in point, the service acadamies all ran the option. This year was the first time that I can ever recall seeing a safety responsible for hitting the pitch man. ND was forced to ask a safety (Zibby or Nduwke) to run 12-15 yards to get to the pitch man who had already picked up 4 yards. With a faster harder hitting core of LBs the outside LBs could be responsible for getting out there and sealing the edge at the point of attack rather than 4 yards donw field.

    Speed, aggression and skill at LB can cover up a lot of deficienies in other places. They should be in the middle of every play.

    Just my 2 cents for what it is worth.

    But, it sure is fun watching them beat the teams they are supposed to for a change. Give CW another year of recruiting and then every team on the schedule will be a team they are supposed to beat.

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  24. Domers2 11 years ago

    We hope that CW or one of the coaches reads this missive. As a former high school coach, I wish to offer some suggestions for the upcoming LSU game in order to avoid a debacle. First, change the offensive plays/sets. Since we have trouble picking up the blitz, roll Brady to one side or the other and set him up & do straight drop back but mix all 3 of them up. It changes defensive assignments tremendously [that means defense has to THINK & you don’t want your defense to THINK just REACT] when the QB rolls to one side or the other…NOW the KEY to that is to pull linemen to block frontside & DROP linemen to block BACKSIDE. Second, use a completely different offensive set [i.e. the old single wing, pop warner’s wing t, etc] in the redzone…ESPECIALLY in the SECOND HALF when the time to make a defensive adjustment is NOT there. Third, Darius has trouble getting to the outside a great deal…why not line him UP between or over the tackle on one side or another and periodically do a quick pitch from to him, that way, Darius already has a start…and few defenders to go against…and it is NOT a screen pass which is overused to him and obviously well practiced against. Fourth, come out in the either first half or second half and go completely NO HUDDLE FOR THE ENTIRE TIME…2 minute drill for an entire half instead of a series or part of a series as we have been doing. What I’m basically saying is that we have SMART players, & in my experience, smart players can learn football plays or adjustments quickly…its NOT rocket science…but we have to be a totally different team than we have been to date! When we played Michigan & USC, we should have seen a TOTALLY different ND offense than had been seen & MORE IMPORTANTLY HAD BEEN PREPARED FOR…think like the other coaches are thinking about you…then change it. It works…why do successfull pitchers have more than one good pitch…CHANGEUP…confuses batters…well, same with football! Now, why not go for 2 points more often when we DONT NEED TO in the early parts of the game?? That’s a free point!! Come out either in the same set each time and either kick or run/pass….or use a 3rd different offensive set that goes sideline to sideline [to spread defense out] and go from there…again if we score 4 touchdowns….thats 8 extra points instead of 4 extra points…a 4 point bonus! Beats a field goal late in the game doesnt it?? And all extra points start from 3 yards out…HMMMMMM Beats trying a field goal from 40 yards for just 3 points. MIX IT UP! QUIT BEING SO CONVENTIONAL IN OUR STRATEGIC THINKING! By the way, in the Navy game, the way we attacked the pitchman in the option by using the safety was a waste of yardage. If we use the Def End to crash the pitchman and tackle him BEFORE THE PITCH TO HIM which can be done…without penalty and the OLB to that side to crash the QB when he starts down the LOS then there is NO OPTION attack…thats the way we stopped the option back in the 70s & bought about the spread offense…we used this saying for our def ends/LBs he come, I come; he go, I go. So simple & effective & keeps the safeties where they need to be. By the way, the def tackle takes the full back & ILB is back up. FOOD-FOR-THOUGHT. Believe me, if I could, I would LOVE to talk to CW for an hour or coach at my old school ND! Its NOT rocket science…but sometimes the answer is so obvious, people discount it. Respectfully submitted for everyone’s perusal & discussion. [I have a tough hide.]

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  25. Irish Realist 11 years ago

    Great topic & good points all around. But looking at the 3 losses to superior talent (OSU, MiCH & USC) why not bring everything but the kitchen sink on a blitz more often? ND had lost 4 in a row (the 1st 3 by 31 pts apiece) to USC, so what did Minter have to lose by calling for some timely blitzes? If you’re gonna get your ass kicked…make them earn it. Make the QB earn every completion the way competing defenses make Quinn earn them by knocking the shit out of him.

    Booty was obviously rattled at the end of the 1st half & it was b/c the front 4 were getting pressure & Minter started mixing in more blitz. Not every play mind you, but make the QB look out of the corner of his eye for one second & you’ve thrown off his timing w/ his receivers. Booty may be a 4th yr JR but he’s still a 1st year starter & it shows when he comes up vs. aggressive defenses.

    I will be very disappointed if we continue to see the same old schemes in the Sugar Bowl that were proven not to work vs. OSU, Michigan & USC. LSU is LOADED w/ speedy athletes. IF ND thought the Trojans’ D was fast, wait until they face LSU.

    It also doesn’t help that the safeties continue to bite on the play action. I mean when UNC & Air Force are lighting you up through the air, something has to be changed. Isn’t that the definition of insanity: Keep doing the same thing in hopes that the outcome will change? Again, my point is that it’s been proven that the more conservative schemes have failed & not even prevented blow outs. Why not blitz the Tigers more often so they can at least feel half the pain that Brady Quinn receives every game? And ND can’t be predictable w/ the blitz much like an offense can’t be predictable w/ the pass. Like an offense that runs on 1st and 2nd for minimal gain, even the cheerleaders know the offense will more than likely pass on 3rd down.

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  26. Hank the Tank 11 years ago

    Dr. Troy:
    Thanks for laying that out. It is very difficult to make the jump that Minter is to blame of our DF. He needs more time, more talent. I trust that CW will and does see what the problems are. If, for one second, he thinks it is Minter, he is gone, win or lose the bowl game.

    As for the DF that was employed at the USC game.

    Everything that ND tried during the season has failed, as you point out. I am sure that Minter and CW decided that the best that could be, was to keep a generic DF, prevent the long plays and contain, as much as possible.

    It all went to hell when the OF could not stay on the field. That put undue pressure on the DF. That was not in the game plan and it led to the teams collapse.

    New talent will enable Minter and CW to do more with the DF. Pass rush, DB play and position change will allow ND to perform at a different level.

    Next years team will be short on experience and have more talent. What will that mean in terms of W’s and L’s? We shall see.

    Hank the Tank

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  27. Cloudy 11 years ago

    Good article! Good question! For me what is most difficult when analyzing the skills of players or the talent of the coaches is what I see looking through the camera lens and the view it gives me. Most of the time the camera angle or choice showing on the TV doesn’t show the play. Often all there is to watch is some clever close-up of the QB’s helmet. This poses a big problem when giving an informed critique of the game and the players.

    Yes it does seem that Minter is able to make adjustments in the second half to augement the defenses play, but it’s the entire sixty minutes that count not just the last thirty. For the USC game ND had no offensive line push and Booty had enough time to pick apart the secondary. (And speaking of Secondarys’, the offensive line for ND must do a better job. I say this because when watching the receivers for USC run picture perfect routes and compare that to ND’s receivers you can see how it hurts the the offense when receivers cut off their route too early or shorten the sell job of their routes because they know Quinn is probably in trouble which he was. By doing this it gives the opposing secondary an easy read as though they knew what was coming and they are able to bat down balls or just make the play as they did at USC.)

    Back to ND’s defense: From what I could see speed was a shortfall factor but more importantly the defense was predictable and banal. The opposition knew what was coming. The expression …if you have lemons make lemonade comes to mind. If the talent isn’t there find a scheme that uses them well and having said that maybe that’s exactly what Minter has been doing, making the best of it till the talent pool gets deeper. ND’s defense only seemed weak against speed, Michigan and USC. Remember, UCLA beat USC and that had to do with UCLA’s front line defense and their speed in the backfield. Their schemes on the front line were terrific. Booty didn’t know where to go but with ND he had no trouble. When UCLA played ND it was true then that UCLA doesn’t have the offense yet to score big points but they have the defense to slow a good offense down.
    So if left to me on that I’d say if you can find a better defensive coach who is willing to come to ND hire him, otherwise keep what you’ve got and hope the talent gets faster and smarter. Don’t make a change for change sake.

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