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The good, the bad, the ugly: Army

Nov 22, 2010, 4:13 PM EDT

Dwallstackle

If this column is a day late, it’s not because of the ten hours spent getting from New York back home yesterday (I was in line at JFK security next to two people on the Delta flight to Moscow that turned around because of engine problems), but because there’s so few holes to pick at in our weekly good, bad, and ugly column following a convincing 27-3 victory against Army in Yankee Stadium. (Well, maybe it’s a little of both.)

The Irish got bowl eligible in style, doing so with a dominating performance in front of an electric crowd that witnessed the first football game in the new Yankee Stadium.

“We’re playing fast. We’re playing physical,” head coach Brian Kelly said after the game. “We don’t look like a team in November that is not physically stronger, not in better condition.”

Before we start talking USC, let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly from Notre Dame’s victory.

THE GOOD

Bob Diaco’s defense. Forgive me if it’s repetitive, but here are a few facts that game from Army’s sports information department after the game.

  • The 24 point loss was the largest margin of defeat on the season for Army.
  • Army’s 174 yards of total offense was its lowest output in over two years.
  • Army was held without a touchdown for the first time this season.
  • Army’s leading rusher was held to just 30 yards rushing.
  • Entering the game, Army QB Trent Steelman had thrown one interception in 99 attempts. He threw two in seven throws on Saturday.

After the game, Army head coach Rich Ellerson succinctly summed things up by saying “We didn’t play very well and we got clobbered.” In what was almost poetic justice, it was Ellerson who admitted that the Army coaching staff wasn’t prepared for the look the Irish gave them in the option, with the Irish playing almost exclusively in a four-man front.

In a wonderfully captured postgame celebration, Kelly singled out his defensive staff for a wonderful game plan, with the game ball going to defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who held the Black Knights to just about half of their average yardage output.

THE BAD

I’ll admit that I’m really digging for bad things here, but the Irish need to get more out of their punt return game. While John Goodman has been sure-handed for the most part this season, he’s been mediocre on returns. His minus four yards on three punt returns and four fair catches continue a mediocre facet of some otherwise good special teams.

Against Army, it doesn’t hurt the Irish to get nothing in the return game, especially when you’re winning by multiple touchdowns. But for the Irish to win a game against a team like — oh, I don’t know — USC, they’ll need to break a big play in the return game, something Goodman hasn’t shown the ability to do this year.

I’ve got no reason to suspect it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Floyd was back returning punts against the Trojans, who haven’t given up a touchdown yet in the punt return game.

(Honorable mention in the bad category: Tommy Rees’ interception in the endzone on the game’s opening drive, a throw that should’ve never been made.)

THE UGLY

For a guy that gets claustrophic in tight places, there’s nothing that got me sweating more than the absolute chaos of the subway ride from Midtown into the Bronx. Train after train was packed to capacity, with impromptu “Here Come the Irish” chants leading the way. It had to rival any commute to Yankee playoff games and you’d have thought South Bend wasn’t in Indiana, but in one of the five boroughs with the number of Irish fans clogging the subway.

While the subway was tight enough, the scene at Time Square was incredible, with the Notre Dame band and Irish fans virtually stopping traffic thanks to it’s afternoon concert. You’d have thought the Beatles were in town or Dick Clark was about to drop the ball with the turnout.

If you’re looking for a photo that properly conveys the scene, the Gameday crew for Notre Dame took an incredible panoramic photo of the scene. I’m in there somewhere, hovering around the right side of the frame trying to get a snapshot for my faithful readers.

  1. schuey73 - Nov 22, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    Keith,

    The link to the picture didn’t work for me. However, what a game! It’s great to see the defense playing like this.

    • unbiasednd - Nov 22, 2010 at 4:47 PM

      there is a : missing after http add that and it works

      • schuey73 - Nov 22, 2010 at 7:07 PM

        Thanks. That is a cool picture.

  2. 9irish - Nov 22, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    I unfortunately agree about our punt returner (which he is not, really..he is a “fair catcher”)

    With all the hoopla that you talked about down there, why didn’t College Gameday come to that game? I was puzzled by that, they go to Illini-Northwestern in a backwards-ass Wrigley Field and leave Notre Dame and Yankee Stadium behind?

    I’m wondering if it’s not because the game was on NBC

    • borromini - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:14 PM

      I’m convinced it’s because the game was being carried by NBC.

      • 9irish - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:49 PM

        Yup, I am too, after I thought about it. Not part of the “ESPN family of Networks”

  3. tlndma - Nov 22, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    Don’t think I want to put a guy on punt returns, that has never done it. Goodman’s job is to catch the ball first. Remember he was put back there because other players were letting the ball hit the ground and causing yardage to be lost. Maybe one reason for Goodman’s fair catches on saturday were Army short punts. I realize he’s not Golden but, I’m fine with him back there.

  4. c4evr - Nov 22, 2010 at 10:31 PM

    Was at the game and find it hard to pin this on Goodman… if anybody should be singled out, it’s the guys that are supposed to delay the outside guys from getting down the field. Every time Goodman caught the ball, an Knight was right there on him. I actually was surprised that he was able to hang on to all the balls that came his way. Come to think of it, there may have been one returnable ball in the 4th quarter that I think he called fair catch on.

  5. ndfootballfan4life - Nov 22, 2010 at 11:04 PM

    Keith, couldn’t agree with you more about Goodman. I’ve been calling for his job ever since he dropped the punt against Tulsa. Yes, he never really had a chance to return anything against Army. But do any of you really think that he will ever break one open? We need a returner back there that forces the opposing team to gameplan against our punt return team. Special teams play can make or break a game. Take Blanton’s blocked punt for TD against Utah. That changed the game from that play on. With Goodman returning punts, I guarantee that USC will not be concerned with punting the ball to him and worrying about any type of big return. Now I’m not saying that we should necessarily throw Floyd back there and risk injury to our best player on the team, but we havent beaten USC in i think 8 years. Maybe Floyd is the man we need back there to at least make the opposing team worry about a big play. All im saying is that we should have the best players at each position playing. I dont think anyone can sit there and say that Goodman is our best punt returner. Anyways, GO IRISH! BEAT SC!!!!

    • c4evr - Nov 22, 2010 at 11:59 PM

      I nominate Toma – he’s a gamer.

      • 9irish - Nov 23, 2010 at 12:03 AM

        they just need someone fast and slippery. Goodman is neither.

      • ndfan82 - Nov 23, 2010 at 12:50 AM

        Nice! That never even crossed my mind!

  6. domer77 - Nov 23, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Fast and slippery…Brilliant and novel! Perhaps you know of a green clad gent that possesses such unique qualities. Nominations anyone? Ivory Covington comes to mind! “Cruuunch..”

    • domer77blowsgoats - Nov 23, 2010 at 7:46 PM

      Ah finally! I’ve been waiting all week for some more 9Irish vs Domer77 banter. Thank you both for your continuing insight and fantastic comments on ND football. 9Irish, please don’t ever use the term “slippery and wet” on a football message board, of course unless you are referring to Urban Meyer, YUM! Domer77, your “Pam the blam” was classic, even if you do blow goats….

    • 9irish - Nov 23, 2010 at 8:31 PM

      hmmmm…fast means someone who is fleet of foot…”slippery” means someone who can elude someone who is less than ten yards away. If you need anymore “brilliant and novel” interpretations of basic stuff, let me know…I will reply, but if you don’t get it at first, call a fair catch and I’ll wait for you.

      • 9irish - Nov 23, 2010 at 8:51 PM

        sorry, I got your reference now….one of the best plays ever, I forgot his name! we get too defensive on here.. I thought you were being sarcastic and we’re actually on the same page

        Go Irish

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