Skip to content

Five things we learned: Notre Dame vs. UConn

Nov 21, 2009, 6:45 PM EST

When UConn kicker Dave Teggart’s field goal hooked wide left as time expired, it looked as if the scene was set for a dramatic escape for the Irish and another heart-breaking loss for Randy Edsall’s hard luck Huskies. But the Huskies marched down the field in overtime, and on a critical 3rd and 7, former Notre Dame quarterback Zach Frazer hit wide receiver Kashif Moore for a touchdown in the corner of the end zone, and the Huskies scored first to swing the momentum back in their favor.

Even though the Irish responded with a touchdown of their own, they settled for a field goal to start the second overtime, and gave the Huskies a chance to win with a touchdown. Five plays later, Andre Dixon rumbled off the left side of the fatigued Irish defensive line for a touchdown and the victory, leaving the Notre Dame stunned and a senior class heartbroken in their final game at home for the second time in as many seasons.

Here’s what we learned today:

1) Emotions and heart are an integral part of college football.

Say what you will about recruiting rankings, but today’s game showed that emotions and momentum are just as important as personnel in college football. Even after the Irish jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, it never felt safe, especially with the tidal wave of negativity surrounding the Irish. The tipping point of this game came early in the second quarter, when Sergio Brown inexplicably hit a wide receiver after the pass sailed out of bounds, giving UConn new life. On cue, Jordan Todman darted 43 yards for a touchdown, cutting the lead in half, and changing the complexity of the game.

As we’re seeing in Ann Arbor, once the ball starts rolling it’s tough to get things back in control. With two fanbases as entitled and accustomed to winning as the programs at Michigan and Notre Dame, tradition and past excellence no longer seems like assets, but harbingers of doom. At high profile schools like these, there’s enough pressure put on the players by the swarming national media, but when the grumbling festers and permeates from within the faithful, it’s easy to see why these two proud programs are cracking at the seams, regardless of the head coach.

2) Notre Dame was decimated by the run.

Both Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon ran for over 100 yards, and even with a quarterback that was lost, UConn won the football game.  Todman’s explosive day didn’t end at the line of scrimmage, he also returned a back-breaking kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown that knotted the game at 17. As I mentioned earlier in the week, the Irish’s lack of a veteran front-seven leaves them incredibly susceptible to a hard-nosed running attack, which has many Irish fans already walking the plank with Toby Gerhart and Stanford on deck.

3) Mistakes kill every team… especially the Irish.

No team is impervious to mistakes, and once again the Irish have themselves to blame for this loss. Even worse, Notre Dame has it’s best players to blame. Costly fumbles by two of the Notre Dame’s premiere skill players killed scoring drives. Missed tackles by everyone, even stalwart safety Kyle McCarthy killed the defense. And boneheaded decisions by veteran players like Sergio Brown were enough to cost the Irish the game.

Like I’ve said before, coaches coach and players play. While it’s going to be difficult for Irish players to look at their senior teammates and embattled coaching staff one last time in Notre Dame Stadium, it may be even tougher to look in the mirror.

4) We may have just seen the end of an era.

With a transition probably inevitable, we may have just seen the end of an offensive era at Notre Dame Stadium. It makes little sense for Jimmy Clausen or Golden Tate to stay through a coaching change, and combining that with the attrition along the offensive line, we may have seen the last of the most explosive offense in modern Notre Dame history. 

If that’s the case, let’s just take a moment and reflect upon how incredible this group of skill players are, and try to imagine what it would’ve been like if they could’ve all be healthy at the same time. Whether it was Michael Floyd’s broken collarbone, Jimmy Clausen’s turf toe, Armando Allen’s ankle, or Kyle Rudolph’s shoulder, this unit never had the chance to mold together, and that lack of cohesion showed up in the one area of the field where the offense just wasn’t dynamic: the red zone.

If this is the end, at the very least Charlie Weis disproved the myth that Notre Dame couldn’t run an explosive pro-style offense.

5) Coaching changes won’t solve all the Irish’s problems.

To all the Notre Dame fans so adamant about a coaching change, please realize that a switch won’t solve all the problems.

In fact, there may not be a less desirable job in all of college coaching. If Charlie Weis is fired, Notre Dame will have run its last four coaches out of town. (You can argue five with the situation that surrounded Lou Holtz’s “retirement.”) The terms “good will” and “growing pains” mean nothing to a fan base stuck in the past, and they will expect greatness immediately, as the cupboard is far from bare.

You’ll be installing a new offense with a quarterback sidelined with a torn ACL, and inheriting a defense that’s flopped between a 3-4 and a 4-3, and has failed to stop either the run or pass with any efficiency.

More over, you’ll run into all the roadblocks that the past head coach embraced. Academic standards, demanding alumni, and an administration that wants the glory of the past without sacrificing the aspirations of the future. Your home field advantage will be neutered by four-quadrant branding and over-the-top hospitality, and there’s a very large segment of college football fans and the national media that will immediately be rooting for you to fail.

Notre Dame has made the bold choice before, cutting ties with Tyrone Willingham after three seasons, and opening themselves up to the fair and unfair criticism that comes along with replacing the most high-profile African-American head coach in college football’s most high-profile position.

Now athletic director Jack Swarbrick and president Father Jenkins are saddled with an equally difficult decision, trying to find a coach that’s better suited for a job that the current coach seemingly fits perfectly.

146 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. David86 - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:46 PM

    SOT, we’ll be OK. If Notre Dame carries herself with class, the inevitable ravings of the few won’t matter. If she doesn’t, all the class her disaffected sons could muster won’t matter either. I do appreciate the sentiment, though.

  2. David86 - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:47 PM

    SOT, we’ll be OK. If Notre Dame carries herself with class, the inevitable ravings of the few won’t matter. If she doesn’t, all the class her disaffected sons could muster won’t matter either. I do appreciate the sentiment, though.

  3. Mike - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:48 PM

    Can’t comment about UCLA but Cal no longer holds to high academic standards for football recruits.
    I believe Stanford does and struggles the same way Notre Dame does even though I’d give Stanford the nod for a tougher schedule.

  4. mmfink - Nov 23, 2009 at 3:42 PM

    robertg – I love your posts and they’re the only reason I visit ND Central. I’m wondering if you’ve been banned/censored from NDNation.com’s message boards. If so, a civil jury trial to take away their material possessions is in order. The truth is out there.

  5. Art Vandelay - Nov 23, 2009 at 7:50 PM

    “Ma, the MEATLOAF.”

  6. sharkey - Nov 23, 2009 at 8:30 PM

    robertg:
    Ummm… you dont own any automatic weopons, do you?

  7. robertgisgay - Nov 23, 2009 at 11:16 PM

    Robertg slobbed my knob today. It felt great.

  8. Gold and Blue Persuasion - Nov 24, 2009 at 5:19 AM

    ND will return to her former glory when the coaches get their act together and learn how to teach. They are as much at fault for Notre Dame playing like chumps instead of Champions.
    They should change their sign at the bottom of the stairts to read,
    ‘Play the game like you’ve been on the field before’. Maybe that will stop some of the inane celebrations penalties and personal foul penalties that ND loves to incur at the worst time. Spme of them play like they’ve never played the game before with some of the most absolutely, head shaking stupid things they do.
    They take a SAT test to enter Notre Dame. Well, I think they should be required to take a test to check out their football IQ.

  9. BigMike4562 - Nov 24, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    So robertg, you are Bob Gillian? or something to that matter ehhh? Hmmm, alas we know the alias, thanks to other posters in other threads…robertg, you can run baby, but like Clausen, we will sack you sooner or later….

  10. Sayers - Nov 26, 2009 at 12:42 AM

    For the record, ND got bushwhacked by a very good football team. UCONN’s 4-5 record was totally deceiving. They had played 5 ranked teams down to the wire and came up short in literally the final minute (seconds) of each game, includng Pitt, Cincy, North Carlina and West Virginia. They are hard nosed and have a huge O line that will run the ball down your throat. With a historically weak passing game, they have learned to live off the run even when the D is stacked with 8 in a box. As was the case at ND, the UCONN running game can wear down defenses and break them by the 4th Q.
    ND fans should not feel too bad. Next year with a basically the same matured line-up, Mighican better be ready to play or it could be another “stunning” upset.
    Weis is a class act, as is the University, and ND ought to give him one more year with Clasussen and Tate, and a chance to shore up its Defense. Notwithstandng their record, the Irish are only a few plays away from having a completely different season.

  11. robertgisgay - Nov 29, 2009 at 1:42 AM

    Robert G just sucked me off. It felt great.

  12. Class 3 License - Dec 5, 2009 at 3:07 AM

    Hey good looking blog but it’s a little funky looking in my K-meleon browser. Looks good besides that!

  13. Fritz Riggott - Jan 12, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    Hey, Your Blog is great, found while in search for web technology info on ask.com and it has very related information on it. Will be sure to come back again and bookmark, thanks

  14. Jennette Flecha - Jan 12, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    It appears that you have placed a lot of effort into your article and I require more of these on the net these days. I sincerely got a kick out of your post. I don’t really have much to say in response, I only wanted to comment to reply wonderful work.

  15. Ernie Giannetti - Jan 25, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    I have forgotten who it was but I first found out about your site from a link posted on Twitter. . I like the way you write and I am going to subscribe to read more when I can. Oh yeah, are you on Twitter yet?

  16. Oil Change - Jan 28, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    Thanks for posting this. Would be intrested to read more or possibly please contact me by email thank you!

  17. Nichol Barriault - Jan 29, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    I was trying to find more information on this topic today when I found your really informative article…thanks a million for writing this. I will definitely be checking up on your blog and visiting again to read new articles.By the way since when have you been keeping a blog? :)

  18. HEIGHT INCREASE - Feb 1, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    height insoles are wedge-shaped inserts that are placed in the heel portion of a shoe, with the intention of adding lift under one or both feet for therapeutic purposes. Those who suffer foot pain when wearing shoes for a long time. Heel lifts can relieve pain. Shoe inserts are also useful for those who want to increase their height.

  19. Baseball news - Feb 3, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

  20. Philadelphia SEO - Feb 5, 2010 at 3:48 AM

    Wow! Thank you! I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your

  21. v9versace - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:00 AM

    Check out the new Versace V9 luxury mobile phone, featuring metallic housing with Swarowski crystal stone, shake control, turn-to-mute, blacklist functions and 2000 mAh battery. Available in gold or silver for only EUR 135 on http://www.versace-v9.eu

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!