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Irish need complete effort

Oct 3, 2009, 7:00 AM EDT

Notre Dame faces an important test today with the Washington Huskies. Empirically, the Irish are the better team. They have a more explosive offense, a defense with less question marks (believe it or not), and the advantage of playing in front of 80,000 of their own fans. Yet there is a general sense of uneasiness among the Notre Dame faithful that is representative of the Irish’s efforts thus far this season, and really a carryover from the past two years of the Weis regime.

With a win today, the Irish would move to 4-1, and have a chance to beat the most fragile USC team in recent memory. Every goal that even the most optimistic Irish fan had before the season started would be reachable, and even the once mighty Trojans look beatable, suffering from the same growing pains that ail most teams breaking in a new quarterback. Yet a loss to Washington would be catastrophic to the psyche of the players and fans. A 3-2 record going into the USC game would feel like a guarantee to start .500 in the first six games, and would necessitate running the table for the Irish to even be considered for a New Year’s Day bowl game.

Yet that type of forward thinking is what has doomed many Irish fans this year. Instead of basking in the glory of a tight victory, they bemoan the circumstances that kept the games close. Instead of thinking that the Irish are one play and some very questionable officiating away from being undefeated, they think Notre Dame is two plays away from being 1-3. Stumbling to Michigan wasn’t just a loss, it was an indictment of Weis and his entire staff.

Today presents an opportunity for the Irish. It offers the chance to give a complete effort in all three facets of the game. On offense, the Irish can control the line of scrimmage with their running attack, and take shots deep in the passing game when the Huskies crowd the line of scrimmage. On defense, the Irish can tighten the clamps on their Cover 2, and use Jon Tenuta’s blitzing scheme to force an athletic, but inaccurate quarterback into making some bad decisions with the ball. On special teams, the Irish don’t need to break a return or block a kick to be successful, but stay fundamentally sound and make the routine plays.

Finally, today represents an opportunity for Coach Weis and his staff. It’s time to rally the team and get a complete effort. It’s not enough to wow us for a quarter at a time. It’s not enough to just squeak by a team that has inferior talent. It’s time for the Irish to compete for four quarters and put away a team that isn’t there equal.

If the Irish can do that today, they’ll have a week off to think about their biggest game yet.  

  1. robertg - Oct 3, 2009 at 7:39 AM

    with an honest ref crew, this notre dame will deliver a very complete effort against washington.
    until that is done,no future games exist.
    GO IRISH!!!

  2. Dan Coy - Oct 3, 2009 at 10:03 AM

    this game is an important game for the Irish! The team looks much improved since charlie has arrived. However, I would have loved to see the Irish beat the team up north (Coach Hayes).

  3. Dan Coy - Oct 3, 2009 at 10:06 AM

    This game is an important game for the Irish! The team looks much improved since charlie has arrived. However, I would have loved to see the Irish beat the team up north (Coach Hayes).

  4. jvd - Oct 3, 2009 at 2:28 PM

    Great perspective Keith…the glass is much more than half full than half empty. I personally get tired of hearing so called Irish fans bemoaning our 3-1 record and calling for Charlie’s head. What other team would be 3-1 at this point – especially with injuries to 4 key players and the “objective” Big 10 officiating? Reminds me of the fan criticism of Ara, Devine, and Lou who (in my mind) left ND prematurely at least in part due to the unrealistic fan(atic) expectations. Even Ara’s 1966 National Championship wasn’t sufficient for these so called fans because it came with a 10-10 tie with Mich State. How about a little (lot) more support from the Irish fans for their team and coachs? Who among us could withstand this degree of scrunity of every decision we make in doing our jobs (eg. in your article there should be spelled “their” in the 3rd to last line). Let’s be positive and more supportive instead of predicting doom and gloom. Hopefully the decision makers regarding Charlie are more realistic and less fan(atic).

  5. Art Vandelay - Oct 3, 2009 at 2:35 PM

    Keith:
    I don’t understand your article. You seem to criticize the fans for their “forward thinking” when you state, “…that type of forward thinking is what has doomed many Irish fans this year. Instead of basking in the glory of a tight victory, they bemoan the circumstances that kept the games close.” At the conclusion of your piece you state that the Irish are presented with an opportunity against Washington and that, “It’s not enough to just squeak by a team that has inferior talent.” Which is it? You sound like you’re ready to bemoan a close win rather than celebrate it. Isn’t that what you’re criticizing? I myself will celebrate a win whether its a blowout or a nail biter.
    Yours very truly,
    Art Vandelay

  6. Keith Arnold - Oct 3, 2009 at 2:48 PM

    Art/Costanza:
    I see your point. I’m trying to say a few things: 1) The Irish need to play a complete game. 2) For some fans, winning the game isn’t enough. For whatever reason, these fans have found something to complain about regardless — lost opportunities, style points, whatever. 3) For the Irish, today presents an opportunity to be 4-1… which perception wise is a big deal, especially with USC beatable. But to borrow from former Vikings head coach Mike Tice, “Enjoy the season.”

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