Immediate Overreactions: Notre Dame, Brian Kelly Get Mocked By Cincinnati

Irish let Bearcats back up their week of trash talk then troll them following a frustratingly futile offense performance.

Notre Dame’s program record 26 game home winning streak came to a screeching halt on Saturday afternoon when the Irish left Cincinnati walk into Notre Dame Stadium and push them around. The Bearcats did a lot of talking leading up to the game, and they backed it up while the flaws the Irish overcame over the first month of the season ultimately led to their demise. After falling behind 17-0 in large part to their own mistakes, a late rally fell short as the Irish leave the contest with more questions than they had entering it.

Notre Dame let Cincinnati mock them

I knew this game meant a lot more to Cincinnati than Notre Dame, but I had no clue just how much it meant to Cinncinati. Apparently, Brian Kelly leaving Cincy for Notre Dame almost 12 years ago still stings because Cincinnati went on a troll barrage after beating Notre Dame today. The official Cincinnati football Twitter account mashed up essentially years’ worth of Brian Kelly press conference clips from his time at Cincy to describe today’s win for their program.

While I respect the troll to some extent, that seems like a lot of work to do when there was a chance that the video never saw the light of day. Oh, and I purposely didn’t embed it here because I didn’t think it deserves any more engagement than it’s already gotten.

The sad thing here for Notre Dame and Brian Kelly is they let it happen. Today was a comedy of errors for Notre Dame, from bad turnovers to penalties to terrible coaching decisions. In the biggest game of the year, Brian Kelly coached worst than we’ve seen from him a while. For instance, why on earth did Kelly insert Tyler Buchner into the game right when Drew Pyne was in a rhythm, and the Irish offense showed some signs of life? Buchner got stuffed on first down, and the drive stalled. It was a classic “let’s outsmart everyone but only outsmart ourselves” situation.

Cincinnati and its fans will enjoy this for years to come, and Notre Dame let it happen on their home field all while plenty of Notre Dame fans sold their tickets to Cincinnati fans allowing a mini sea of red. Not great.

Brian Kelly mismanaged the quarterback position, badly

It was pretty clear in the first half that Jack Coan needed to be replaced. But, by the end of the second quarter, Coan checked down to running backs and threw the ball away at the slightest sign of pressure. Or, in some cases, even when there was no pressure at all.

We said on the preview pod we expected to see Drew Pyne from the beginning since Coan was hurt enough last week to get taken out. Combine that with Coan being the least-mobile quarterback in recent Notre Dame history, and it seemed like a bad idea to start him. Brian Kelly did anyway. It didn’t work. At all.

The play that encompassed Coan’s day the best – or worst – was his last snap on 3rd and 5 at the end of the first half. There was no pressure on Coan at all, but Coan rolled out and threw the ball away without trying to run, buy time, or even fire the ball downfield. There was nothing to lose in that situation if he fired it downfield. Notre Dame had to punt. Coan just casually tossed the ball away, though without a defender near him.

Simply put, Brian Kelly could not have managed the quarterback situation worse than he did today.

At this point, there is no reason for Notre Dame to start anyone other than Drew Pyne. Pyne wasn’t perfect, but he sparked the Irish offense and led the Irish to their only 13 points on the day.

In the 5th game of the season, Brian Kelly played three quarterbacks and then said that they needed to figure it out after the game. Anyone who watched the fourth quarter last week already had figured it out.

Notre Dame’s defense isn’t to blame for the loss

Notre Dame’s defense gave up a couple of scores at inopportune times, but overall the defense played well enough to win today. If Notre Dame had any semblance of a competent offense in the first half, maybe they win this game. Instead, the offense repeatedly put the defense in bad positions for the first 30 minutes.

With the game looking bleak in the 3rd with Cincy up 17-0 and marching, the defense came up with a big turnover to get the Irish back in the game.

After Notre Dame cut the lead to 17-7, Notre Dame’s defense forced a three and out, giving the offense a chance to cut the lead more. However, the offense responded with a three and out of their own.

The defense did its part today despite missing a few opportunities for additional turnovers.

Mistakes ultimately undid Notre Dame

The list of unforced errors for Notre Dame is pretty long in this one. There was the Chris Tyree fumble on the kickoff that gifted Cincinnati a field goal. Then, there was the Kevin Austin drop on 2nd and 10 in the fourth when Notre Dame was still down ten that would have been a huge gain. Finally, there was the Coan interception on the game’s first drive when Notre Dame had marched down the field.

Notre Dame isn’t good enough to overcome all of those unforced errors against solid teams, and that cost the Irish today.

Expectations Need to Be Reset

I maintained all along that I would reset my expectations until Notre Dame lost a game, and now I begrudgingly have to. After what we saw today, it’s hard to imagine Notre Dame navigating the final seven games this season without another loss along the way. If Kelly can’t decide on a quarterback, what chance does the Notre Dame offense have?

Like we saw today, the defense will be good enough to keep the Irish in every game, even when the offense cannot do anything. It seems evident that Notre Dame should stick with Pyne at this point and see what the kid can do, but Kelly was non-committal on Pyne following the loss.

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38 Comments

  1. This game was a classic example of why Notre Dame not being in a conference is a blessing and a curse. When teams like Cincy that have never been to South Bend they bring 15,000 fans to make the pilgrimage and see everything South Bend has to offer on game day. It happens all too often.

      1. Cincy beat the worst ND team in years with their best team ever. It happens. But no way Cincy goes to the CFP. Strength of schedule is crap. Cincy is top 10 but not top 4. Cincy fans are mad that BK left but Luke will leave as soon as he gets the job offer he wants. No one wants to spend their carrerr as the Cincy coach. Because they are an FCS school with a good team 1 yr every decade. ND plays a power five schedule and has 10+ wins yr after yr. No comparison. But I love the trolling and stuff by Cincy fans. Shows so clearly that they know they are small potatoes and this is their 1 chance for legitimacy. When they get the UCF treatment at the end of the year, I will giggle just a bit. 🙂

  2. Problem is Notre Dame is everyone’s super bowl and bucket list stadium and opposing fans are willing to pay whatever price is necessary to see a game there. No one cares about flying to Tuscaloosa to see a game. Its why they don’t have many opposing fans.

  3. The red and green peppered throughout the stadium gave everything a great Christmas look, but there were no snowflakes.
    Pyne should certainly start at WV.
    The season is not over, but more of the same at QB will end it quickly.

    BGC 77. 82

  4. ND can no longer be considered a great home field advantage or one of the toughest places to play. ND fans have sold out. Too many examples now of the opposing team taking over ND stadium. Quite embarrassing actually.

    Coach Freeman has to be regretting his decision.

    1. Pass the hat at the next game to buy out one of your ‘fake fan’ neighbors’ seats. Everyone does that, problem solved.

  5. Didn’t get to see the game live as I was golfing in Georgia for the fourth straight day then flew back home. Just finished watching the recording and I’m really not surprised. ND hasn’t looked good at all this season. Bad O-line, non existent running game, very mediocre QB play, poor special teams. TE play has been the only bright spot on offense and that may have taken a huge hit with Mayer injury. Notre Dame got embarrassed today and I called that shit. Get rid of Kelly and Rees. I like Pyne but would prefer to see Buchner as the starter. Start working on the plan B.

    1. Couldn’t respond to your post earlier, I got tied up Zooming with the Pope about Vatican III. then my hot new neighbor wanted me to show her how to do more butt crunches without cramping up.

      Anyhoo……you didn’t miss much.

  6. Anyone who didn’t realize ND was in a rebuilding year is a moron. No team not named Alabama can lose all that ND lost and not miss a beat. Not Clemson…not Ohio State…

    Come on guys, we are extra lucky to have one the 4 previous games. We lost to a once in a generation Cincy team that had a fifth year record setting qb and maybe the best corner in ncaaf. Anyone surprised a team in a rebuilding year lost that game?

    It’s the nature of college football for, again, any team not the Tide.

    BK has been here 12 years. In that time he has had teams play in bcs champ game and in playoffs twice. So, simple math says 25% of the time he has ND in the hunt for a NC. An independent team with high academic standards. Is he nick Saban? No. But Saban wouldn’t be Saban at ND.

    Is what it is. I think we lose at least one and maybe 2 more this year. 9-3…probably what clemson will be as well. If that’s our rebuilding year floor now, I will take it.

    1. Hunh. In August, I read quite a few articles and comments here dissecting the schedule and concluding there was not one obvious loss on the list.

      I guess rebuilding at ND is just that easy.

    2. Irishman: This is the most intelligent comment entry I have seen in years. Every point you make is excellently stated and exactly to the point. Thank you. Is there any way you could mentor poor “David”? His comments are a distraction from intelligent consideration of each game’s analysis. You are a bright spot…

    3. Kelly hasn’t beat a good team in his years yet that he was n underdog to…..his best win was against Clemson….in overtime without QB and 3 defense starters.this dude gets paid to much money for close wins against teams like Toledo…..I’m just saying time to move on from Kelly

  7. Is there any way for the university to cut down on scalping? Or label two games a year “no resale games” where if your tickets are found on a site, you lose your rights?
    Sounds harsh and I’m sure it’ll tick people off, but it’s embarrassing seeing so much red.
    I realize some ppl scalp the big game so they can afford the others, but tough. Someone else will happily take their rights.

    1. the fans knew this ND team is overrated. when the best team you have beaten is purdue, lets face it, that is a problem! brian kelly got outcoached bad! fire his worthless ass!

  8. That Cincinnati effort would pose no threat to the likely BCS playoff candidates.
    It beat ND because ND was worse.
    And after 5 games, ND has shown it is simply, grossly overranked. Again.

  9. ND will never win another NC. It’s time we accept it. The people that are really in control don’t care. The fans don’t even care. They sold there tickets for one of the biggest games of the year like Georgia a few years ago. Even the fans that have season tickets don’t care.

    Face it. Our NC days are over. We can bitch and moan all we want. But this is it folks. This is our future.

  10. Awhile back, people similarly mocked those who lost all their money invested with Bernie Madoff.
    He was a long-term fraud too.

  11. Very disappointing. Notredame was outplayed and outcoached. Bottom line Notredame is a good football team not a great football team. Kelly had a well deserved great reputation as an offensive coach prior to coming to Notredame but I’ve yet to see it at Notredame. Every year it’s the same old story. The offense is never good enough week to week. What is the answer. I’m not sure. Kelly is what he is. A good solid coach not an elite coach. I would like to see Fickell come to Notredame in a couple of years. Probably not going to happen. As far as the rest of this season goes I hope they start Pyne. I feel he has some really good potential. Also guys remember it’s just a game. The sun will come up tomorrow. None of us have any control over it anyways and there are a lot more important things in life. Covid. Jobs. I’ve personally had some health issues and a good friend of mine died recently.

  12. the offensive line isn’t good and no team is going to look good on offence with a porous line. pyne didn’t exactly set the world on fire going 9 for 22 passing but he is the only quarterback they have that can run kelly’s offensive. coan can’t run and buckner can’t pass well enough. in kelly’s offence the quarterback has to do both to be effective.

  13. This was a three-phase loss as Tim Prister put it, but I said it first. The D may not have lost the game but it didn’t do nearly enough to win it either. They shat the bed when it counted too!

    1. Credit where credit is due, SFR.
      Cincinnati has a better team and WR ND transfer Young and former ND Coach and now Cincinnati OC Denbrook both sent a clear message to ND and BK about casting them aside, as did Cincy’s D’ to their former DC Freeman, that he’d have had a better chance at the playoffs had he stayed put.
      I guess QB Ritter had a reason to be confident. We’ll see that young man on Sundays next year. He did get enough time to go 9 for 11 for 166 yards in the second half. But some great passes and catches along the way. He can run and he can pass, what modern football requires of your QB. He’ll cash in on that with next year’s draft. But ND won’t win scoring only 13 points vs. a top ten team utilizing your immobile injured QB, a Frosh QB sent in to run and only allowed to pass on third down, and an O’ scheme that can’t sustain a run game despite two excellent RBs, nor pass block consistently, while keeping your short third string QB, not brought in until the second half, contained in the pocket by a pressuring DL. But true to form, BK immediately after the game on his radio interview proceeded to throw his players under the bus blaming turnovers, and “long passes late”, yet failed to mention this was among the worst O’ game plans in the Kelly era, and that’s saying something. No moving pocket for better protection, no screen passes, too few crossing patterns, no passes to RBs I recall except for that one handed circus catch by Kyren. Not confident moving forward that BK and Rees can fix their impotent O’. The D’ can only do so much and can’t score or set up three TDs every fourth quarter like they did at Soldier Field.

      1. Young wasn’t good enough to star at ND . He’s the 3rd WS at an FCS school that plays at strength of schedule in the 70’s. meh. Cincy is a stepping stone or a fall back. Always has been. Always will be. Sometimes places like that (see UCF a couple yrs ago) catch a unicorn. Doesn’t change the facts. In fact, just affirms them.

    1. Brian Kelly is so animated on the sidelines and takes each penalty personally as he shakes and barks at anybody and everybody. He may be the best entertainment at each Notre Dame football fiasco this season. And his press conferences are intriguing.

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