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The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Michigan

Sep 11, 2011, 8:57 PM EDT

Gary Gray

Yep, that still happened.

Less than twenty-four hours after Notre Dame lost in remarkable fashion to Michigan 35-31, it’s back to the drawing board for the Irish as they look to rebound against a Michigan State team that’s better than either of the first two opponents on paper.

Of course, the Irish look plenty good on paper, if you take white-out to the turnovers column and the win-loss ledger. We’ll try and pick up the pieces here and give people a better idea of what just happened last night, but let’s get to the good, bad, and ugly of the Irish’s 35-31 loss to Michigan.

THE GOOD

Michael Floyd: Michigan defensive backs continually mugged the Irish’s best player, but Floyd still had his way — adding 13 catches for 159 yards. Floyd is tied with USC’s Robert Woods for the most catches in the country with 25 after two games, is third in the country in yardage with 313, and has done just about everything you could ask of the senior.

Theo Riddick: A week after wanting to bury his head in the sand, Riddick caught what should have been the game winning touchdown with thirty seconds left in the fourth quarter, his second score of the night. His six catches for 62 yards were solid contributions and a nice rebound.

Dan Fox: The junior linebacker made two nice plays behind the line of scrimmage, sacking Denard Robinson and adding another tackle-for-loss. As the Irish try and find a companion for Manti Te’o in the middle of the Irish defense, Fox was active all night.

Cierre Wood & Jonas Gray: Wood average 5.4 yards a carry and went for 134 yards, his second straight game with a 100 yard effort. Gray, a week after his nightmarish start, carried the ball six times for 66 yards, running hard and adding a nice complement to Wood. The Irish are getting production out of the running game, though Wood followed Gray’s lead and laid a tough fumble on the ground this week.

THE BAD

Turnovers: That’s Notre Dame all by its lonesome at 120th in the country — dead last — in turnover margin. Sure Notre Dame has moved the ball up and down the field, but fumbles and interceptions, most notably those in the red zone, have turned the Irish into an 0-2 team.

“I can see those things in the development of our players, but that chance to be a good team is everything,” Kelly said this morning. “It’s those turnovers, it’s the little detail things. And until we can clean up those detail things, we can’t be a good team.”

Tight end depth: A position that was once a strength of the roster is now precarious, as Mike Ragone has an MRI scheduled for his knee, Alex Welch is out with a foot injury, and Jake Golic has a broken arm.

That lack of depth forced Ben Koyack to play a lot of football last night, and he’s not a great substitute at the point of attack. Koyack is going to be a good football player, but you never want a true freshman helping making critical blocks in short yardage situations.

Michigan’s explosive plays: Even when the Irish had the game firmly in their grasp, they were still victimized by the big gainers the Wolverines managed to make. Denard Robinson had a 39 yard run. Junior Hemingway had a 77 yard catch. Jeremy Gallon had a critical 64-yard reception. Kelvin Grady and Vincent Smith had catches of over 20 yards. A week after not giving up a play longer than 17 yards, Notre Dame collapsed, leaking oil and big plays throughout the game until the defense completely collapsed in the fourth quarter.

Special teams: A big kickoff return was there for the taking last night, and Theo Riddick couldn’t take advantage. While John Goodman deserves credit for catching every punt he faced, he continues to make poor decisions in the return game, failing to fair catch a ball in traffic and then waving for safety when there wasn’t a defender within 20 yards. Goodman seems to have a misguided belief in his speed, and his negative return when he tried to go wide gave Michigan a huge jolt of energy. Lastly, Ben Turk deserves credit for booming his final punt of the evening, coming up large when the Irish needed it. He also deserves scorn for chunking his other kicks, averaging a measly 33.5 yards a kick even with a 52 yarder.

THE UGLY

The defensive collapse: You want to see how you lose a football game? Here’s a quick look at Michigan’s drive chart, starting with the Wolverines taking the ball into the game’s final quarter:

MICH     3rd M17  02:13  Kickoff       N00  14:54 *TOUCHDOWN      4-83   2:19#
MICH     4th N40  13:22  Punt          N00  10:47 *TOUCHDOWN      5-40   2:35#
MICH     4th M09  06:08  Fumble        N30  04:23  Interception   3-61   1:45
MICH     4th M42  02:16  Punt          N00  01:12 *TOUCHDOWN      5-58   1:04
MICH     4th M20  00:30  Kickoff       N00  00:00 *TOUCHDOWN      3-80   0:30#

After dominating Michigan for 45 minutes, the Irish defense simply fell apart, forgetting how to tackle, cover receivers, and play disciplined football when it needed to the most. Whether it was a blitz that didn’t quite get there or a cover scheme that broke down, the Irish defense’s 28 point fourth quarter was shocking in it’s ineptitude.

The aftermath: The internet is great for a lot of things, but it certainly isn’t the friend of an angst-filled sports fan. For those of you that took to the web to call for the head coach’s job, sent angry tweets to the team’s star middle linebacker, or picked fights with fellow fans sharing the same agony, do yourself a favor next time your favorite teams loses a close one: Turn off the computer and sleep on it.

  1. brendanunderscoreg - Sep 11, 2011 at 9:03 PM

    Great advice at the end, Keith.

    I’m still numb from this debacle. Spent all day pretending it didn’t happen, and then you show up in my Twitter feed. I kind of dislike you right now, Keith.

    But, I’ll be here Saturday for the live blog.

    Let’s take out some frustrations on Sparty this weekend.

    GO IRISH!

    • nudeman - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      I have grave concerns about this team.

      Last week, everyone assumed it was a one time “blip” and they’d roar back against Michigan. I said (with apologies to Lee Corso) “not so fast my friend”. A team that plays THAT badly (against USF) has some serious issues. Coaching, players, chemistry, etc. Now everyone assumes “OK, back home against MSU; we’ll clean it up and beat the nhell out of them”.

      Not so fast my friend.

      Tommy Rees has 5 turnovers in 3 halves of football. That’s just going to STOP?
      The secondary is horrendous. That’s going to STOP?
      They have NO short yardage plays that have worked. That changes this week too?

      Come on. There are problems here. BIG problems. I don’t know if it all gets back to coaching, or if overall the talent just isn’t there. Or both. But something is very wrong in South Bend.

  2. smurphdoggy29 - Sep 11, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    Keith, Thanks for your good work AND great words of advice. People need to chillax.

    I am as angst ridden as the next ND fan, though I waited til now to comment. I have half my family from the state of Michigan and half of them went to UM (the other half to MSU, so another week of relentless chatter) so I have been catching it since midnight last night.

    God Bless America on this remembrance day and 10th Anniversary, let that be a reminder to all of us, if a loss of a football game is the worst that happens to us, we are truly blessed.

    The pieces are in place, the staff is in place, the support system is in place. Work out a few of the wrinkles, which the coaches will do, and the players will rebound, and Notre Dame will be fine.

    Keith please note this time and place for all this negativity and in 5 years reference it when the sailing is smooth. I am picking MSU as the Irish’s first (of many) win this season, and from there the trajectory will be positive.

    Carry on and God Speed

  3. notredave - Sep 11, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    ” Picked fights with fellow fans….” I resemble that. And that was after waking up this morning. ‘Fans’ quitting on the team kinda chaps my a$$. Lets hope the players don’t feel the same way. I don’t believe they do. Most of us fans won’t quit either.

    What doesn’t kill ya…..

    • ndfanwabashman - Sep 11, 2011 at 9:54 PM

      What doesn’t kill ya….

      Makes you 0-2?

  4. notredamegrad - Sep 11, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    Thank you all for your encouraging, reasonable comments (and Keith, for your sound advice against the madness of despairing ND blog commentators). I know that last quarter was a defensive disaster and that the ship needs to be tightened up, but what on earth?! The hysteria is mind-boggling. Quitting on this team after two hard-fought, disappointing games? Condemning players and coaches alike? If you want to be a fan, if ND is your team, you’ve got to stand by these guys. Stand by this team and back them up when they go out there to fight again Saturday. Through thick and thin. That game was about as thrilling as is gets in college football; I’m glad that we could be a part of it, though it’s a true shame that last thirty seconds ended as it did. Fight on, Irish!

    • nudeman - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      No one is quitting. We’re all just shocked and angry.
      And wondering if we’ve vastly overrated them.

    • cameronemclaughlin - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:39 PM

      Great comment. It’s suffering through these agonies and nonetheless continuing to invest emotion into this team that will make the coming victories so sweet.
      GO IRISH!!

  5. whysoserious48 - Sep 11, 2011 at 9:53 PM

    Having played division I football at a very high level I will say this … ND may recover and win 7/8 games but your problem is not the players it’s the coaching and the coaches.

    ~ A real coach takes responsibility for his players not being prepared.
    ~ A real coach doesn’t throw a senior QB under the bus after knee surgery and a half of football.
    ~ A real coach doesn’t act like a mad man game one of a new season when you still have a chance to win the game.

    Your coach has a problem and with every player looking over their shoulder afraid to play the game or make a mistake, debacles like this will continue to happen.

    ND has more talent this year since I’ve seen since Ty Willingham (who got a raw deal by the way) I played against those guys and they were always prepared, but these kids are afraid … afraid to lose, afraid to make a mistake, afraid they will be the next player to get pulled.

    Your coach set the tone for the season by panicking and pulling Crist, first half, first game, in an unprecedented weather situation and that was seen by your whole team. You’re not going to believe or follow a new coach whose actions reflects kelly’s.

    Maybe the young guys can build trust in him over time but not the upper classmen. They saw how he left his last team,not to mention he lacks character and accountability.

    My final thought is why everybody is high on Reese … yeah he played a good game but he has 5/6 turnovers in three games and 6 quarters. Crist threw a bad pick in one half, but it seems like there’s a double standard here. If Kelly was being fair it would be next man up not the overwhelming support for Reese. His number one job should be protect the football.

    I just don’t respect any coach that handle himself like Kelly. Point Blank if he wasn’t going to allow Crist to play the season out after coming back from Knee surgery, you tell him in the spring and allow him to either stay with the team or transfer. Once you tell him it’s an open race and he stays, competes and wins the job you got to ride with him because when you yank him like that the whole team sees it and you lose your players.

    Good Luck ND fans your coach lack character and your players don’t believe in him. Your losses come down to coaching not personnel.

    • brendanunderscoreg - Sep 11, 2011 at 10:13 PM

      As for why everyone is so high on Rees I think it’s important to remember he’s a true sophomore starting his 6th game. What were Clausen’s stats after 6 starts? Anyone want to look that up?

      • andy44teg - Sep 12, 2011 at 6:08 PM

        I was never a Clausen fan to begin with, and I’m not sticking up for the cocky ‘lil douche, but I must say that Jimmy’s first two seasons were spent mostly on his back.

    • bostonjan - Sep 11, 2011 at 10:26 PM

      I respect your experience as a Div 1 football player; and question your apparent insider knowledge about how the players feel, do or do not respect the coaching staff, etc. I would have expected the team to have quit if that was the case; and I haven’t seen evidence of quit on this team.

      I respect your right to have your opinion, just don’t share it; and fail to see the evidence for your assertions.

    • flandersst1 - Sep 11, 2011 at 10:58 PM

      As you are commenting on a Notre Dame blog article less than one hour after it is published on a SUNDAY (you know, like when professional football players are working) it would seem that you may not have played Division 1 football at as high a level as you suggest.

      Furthermore, Ty Willingham is irrelevant to what happened at Michigan last night so why bring it up? And finally, it is difficult to believe that Gary Gray would intentionally get beat on 4 jump balls because Brian Kelly yelled at an offensive player the previous week.

      Mind bogglingly dumb post.

    • rarmitt - Sep 12, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      I think the word you’re looking for is playing scared – i agree Kelly needs to tone it down – it’s obvious he is feeling the pressure of coaching at ND.

      On the other hand, Crist was pulled not becasue of the pick but because he didn’t make the right decisions on just about every play in the 1st half of the USF game and is not something you would expect from a Sr. (see the comparison of throws from last week) – Rees is the right call.

    • nudeman - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:44 PM

      You had me until you defended Ty Willingham. He was putrid at ND, then at Washington.

      CORRECTION: Rees has 5 turnovers in 3 halves of football. Yes, some nice drives and throws, but he’s killed them at crucial times. Agree completely.

      Agree with you on Crist. Think he was thrown overboard prematurely and said so at the time.

      Look at Kelly’s comments: He has taken responsibility.

      Lastly, WAY too much has been made of Kelly’s sideline demeanor. He was fine against Michigan. Move on.

    • terryb101 - Sep 12, 2011 at 1:59 PM

      “just don’t respect any coach that handle himself like Kelly” sounds like you seem to be a little sensitive, like a coach yelled at you and you cried or something..i played football from the age of 6 til i was 17, after 3 knee injuries the first one in the 6th grade, i had to quit.as far as the coach yelling, i got no problem with that, its a heat of the moment thing and IF you were a player you would understand that..as for pulling crist, guess you werent watching last year, he didnt do much then either, granted he got hurt early, but when rees came in the team came to life, just like this year, so it was a good move.and if things work out we will have a great qb for 2 more years.. and for brendanunderscoreg.why did you have to pick clausen? i never thought he was all that good, and he really should have stayed for his senior year.he needed all the learning he could get befor going pro. but i guess he got aenough money to last for a few years,cause he aint going playing anymore

    • 1notredamefan - Sep 12, 2011 at 10:00 PM

      I’d have to say……You SUCK!
      ………..wow I do feel better now:)

  6. ndfanwabashman - Sep 11, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    “Maybe the young guys can build trust in him over time but not the upper classmen. They saw how he left his last team,not to mention he lacks character and accountability.”

    I’m going to need some proof of that. That’s a pretty bold, baseless statement. How was pulling Crist the problem for the fumbles, the lack of the ability to get 1 yard on third down and a scholarship punter not being able to kick?

    Just because you don’t respect Kelly doesn’t mean the players don’t.

    • papadec - Sep 11, 2011 at 10:13 PM

      I agree with ndfan……… we only see a small part of the interaction between coaches & players. It looked to me like many, if not all, of the players were playing hard. Yes, I’m very disappointed, but I’m still hoping for better than an 8-5 season – and I still think it’s attainable.

  7. ndgoldandblue - Sep 11, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    I hear all you guys, and I’m with ya’. Of course I’m going to support the team. I will stay loyal to the Irish and support them no matter how bleak the situation gets. It’s just hard not to feel upset. Most of us have been around since the last national championship, and we wish to see a team that we can be proud of. Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree that these guys are playing their hearts out. We can all be proud of that. However, I can remember all of those nail-biter, heartbreaking losses (far too many) during the Weis regime and getting really sick of hearing Charlie talk about how hard his team battled. You have to hand it to the players for continuing to go out and give everything they’ve got on a week-to-week basis. That is deserving respect. But a fan base wants more out of a tradition-rich program like Notre Dame than just not quitting on the coach.

  8. txbeej - Sep 12, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    A hard-fought loss can be laudable depending on the circumstances. If last night Notre Dame had been playing Wisconsin or Alabama and had lost a very close game, that might have been commendable. That is if the loss had occurred without the defensive meltdown of the last series, that Chinese fire drill could never have been acceptable against anyone, ever.

    But Notre Dame didn’t suffer a hard-fought loss to Wisconsin or Alabama. They fell to maybe the 50th best team in the nation, a team with a first year head coach who, let’s face it, is shoving square pegs into round holes while teaching a new system. Hard fighting shouldn’t have ended with a loss to that team. No one should be consoling themselves with the thought that it was a close game or that the players were trying really hard.

  9. tedlinko - Sep 12, 2011 at 4:06 AM

    You can talk about the defensive collapse. You can point to DR’s “heroics” but the fact of the matter is, the Irish lost this game for the same reason they lost last week. TURNOVERS. I wrote last week that I thought the Irish would turn it around because the defense was stout and the offense wouldn’t continue to turn it over 5 times a game. Well I was wrong.

    This team has the talent to be very very good, as soon as they stop making mistakes. The fumbles are especially egregious because that’s just lack of concentration. The INTs were bad as well but I can excuse those a LITTLE bit more because it’s a case of trying to make a play and just forcing it a bit.

    Turnovers are fixable but until they actually fix them, it’s going to be a long season.

    • 1historian - Sep 12, 2011 at 8:53 AM

      Good point well made.

      I think it’s also true that the players play scared of Kelly – they are mostly 19 & 20 year old BIG kids. I personally believe that Kelly should back off and tell them – “this can be fixed but it has to come from YOU.”

      I don’t see any real leadership out there on either side of the ball.

    • terryb101 - Sep 12, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      yes turnovers are bad, with that said, the offense left the field with 30 secs to go and the lead.the defense came onto the field with 30 secs to go the lead,and mich. 80 yards away from the goal line.no way, no way mich should go 80 yards in 3 plays.that is a total and complete collapse of the defense..its getting to the point where the offense cant get a big enough lead for the defense with just a few mins to go in the game.so the defense wont blow it..and on mich.qb. most of his completions were on passes that were horrible. whenever he sat back in the pocket and tried to make a pass he couldnt, he cant beat anybody with his arm.junk completions helped out to the umpteenth degree by the lack of a good defensive backfield on our part.. looks like we had stevie wonder and ray charles out there

      • tedlinko - Sep 12, 2011 at 2:09 PM

        Terry, I go back and forth on this one. Yes, you’re quite right that with 30 ticks left in the game, the Irish grabbed the lead and if not for one of the worst blown coverages I’ve ever seen, they’d have headed back to South Bend at 1-1 and people would have been anointing Tommy Rees for the drive. To say that the secondary “struggled” in the second half on Saturday would be charitable.

        That said, without the turnovers — all of which were self-inflicted by the way — this wouldn’t have been a contest. The Irish were already up 14 and headed for more (and Michigan’s offense was stuck in neutral) when the first turnover stopped a drive. While Michigan didn’t score off that one, it did kill a drive. Then, on the next possession the Irish drove all the way down the field again, only to toss an INT in the red zone. That’s throwing away points. Then, on the 2nd drive of the 3rd quarter, ND was moving into scoring position again when Wood just flat out dropped it. He wasn’t even hit particularly hard. That’s potentially more points off the board. Then, the worst of all, with the Irish in position to go back up 2 scores, Rees just loses the ball, right out of his hand. If the Irish dont’ turn it over, and instead score on some or all of those three drives, Robinson’s 4th quarter heroics never even happen.

        There is no question that Robinson is a dynamic athlete and he’s difficult to defend. But the bottom line is, when you turn the ball over 5 times, you shouldn’t expect to win and if you do, you’re downright lucky. The Irish almost did get lucky but in the end, the game was 30 seconds too long.

        I honestly don’t know what the problem is. I know people speculate that the players are afraid of Kelly, etc, etc. I”m not convinced. I think that is people projecting their own opinions about Kelly’s sideline demeanor, or just searching for an explanation. But whatever it is, if they don’t stop shooting themselves in the foot, it’s going to be a very long season.

      • nudeman - Sep 12, 2011 at 4:06 PM

        tedlinko,
        I never have any use for a post game analysis which centers around “If you take away that turnover …”; or “If we didn’t get that bad call …”; or “If not for those penalties …:

        If you give ND a couple “IFs” you’ve got to give Michigan a couple. But more to the point, they turned the ball over 10 times in 2 games because they aren’t very good at protecting the ball. And that’s typical of mediocre and poor teams. Right now, great recruiting aside, they’re not very good.

        They ARE what they ARE. An 0-2 team. The fact that they SHOULD HAVE WON both games, is more of an indictment of this team than it is any sort of mitigating factor.

      • tedlinko - Sep 12, 2011 at 8:00 PM

        (this is a response to nudeman below, but the page won’t allow another level of replies).

        @nudeman, I think perhaps you missed the point of my post. I was responding to Terry, who was suggesting that, turnovers and all, the Irish still had the lead with 30 seconds to go, and it was the defensive collapse that lost it for them. I said that I go back and forth — both the defensive breakdowns and the turnovers contributed to the loss but, if they hadn’t made so many unforced errors early (which erased potential points) one defensive breakdown likely wouldn’t have mattered. For the better part of three quarters, the Irish basically controlled the play. My point is, as well as they played to that point, they should have scored more points than they did. Obviously they didn’t, and what happened happened.

        I’m not making excuses, and as I’ve written on this blog before, I’m not much for moral victories. They are 0-2 and that’s not a good place to be.

        But I’m also not much for coming on here and writing things like “they are what they are” They aren’t a good football team because they don’t take care of the ball. And not taking care of the ball is what mediocre teams do… etc etc.

        To me, that’s not really analysis. It sounds more like just frustration. When I look at this team, I actually see a lot of positives. An explosive offense. A QB who is young (only 5 starts) and still makes rookie mistakes but doesn’t tend to get rattled, a ton of physical ability on defense. I could go on and on.

        Obviously, they have to get the turnover thing fixed and until they do, they aren’t going to win many games. But if and when they do, I think they’ll be a very good team.

      • tedlinko - Sep 12, 2011 at 8:01 PM

        OK, I guess it did post below. disregard that comment in parentheses above. nevermind

      • nudeman - Sep 12, 2011 at 8:19 PM

        tedlinko
        My point is this: All the great offense in the world, all the speed, great recruits, and everything else means nothing if they continue to fumble the ball away and throw interceptions.

        At this point, they’ve turned over the ball 10 TIMES in 2 games.
        I get your point, but you simply can’t start ANY sentence here with “If they didn’t have the turnovers …”. That’s like saying “If Lincoln hadn’t gone to the theater …” Rees is particularly culpable.

        I know he is young, and there are parts of his game that are impressive, like leading that last drive. But how far do you go with a guy who – as Bill Walsh once said of Steve DeBerg – “plays just well enough to get you beat”? At some point you just can’t afford it any further. MSU is 2-0, hardly a pushover. If it’s me, I say Rees is on a short leash this week. Of course if it was me, I’d never have removed Crist. I thought that was very premature.

        One last thing on that last point: One poster said “How would you have liked to have Crist trying to lead the comeback?”. Hey … fine with me. Didn’t he do exactly that last year against Mich, and almost win?

      • 1notredamefan - Sep 12, 2011 at 10:20 PM

        “If Lincoln hadn’t gone to Ford’s theater then he wouldn’t have been assassinated. (at Fords theater)! If Notre Dame wouldn’t have turned the ball over 9 times in the last 2 games Notre Dame would be 2-0! There that was easy! and your crucifixtion of Rees and your flattering talk about Rees makes me think you just started watch ND football this year and only bits and pieces of both games at that!!

        There’s always 1,…….always 1 fan at least who seems to live in some abstract world were up is down and vice verse

      • 1notredamefan - Sep 12, 2011 at 10:21 PM

        flattering talk about Crist*

      • terryb101 - Sep 13, 2011 at 8:49 AM

        tedlinko…your right about the turnovers and i agree,but again with that said, the defense is still the biggest problem, turnovers are what they are,every team has them, but the defense still has to step up and play the hand dealt to them.they had the lead and lost it in 3 plays and 28 seconds. look at last weeks game, the defense just couldnt dtop usf when they needed to get the ball back..i mean over the past few years its just been the same thing over and over again..i had said before ,if they cut back on the turnovers the offense will be really good, but championship defense’s step up to the plate when the game is on the line, and we just dont have that

    • tedlinko - Sep 13, 2011 at 2:14 PM

      Terry, We could go back and forth on turnovers vs. defensive lapses. Both obviously hurt.

      The reason I focus on the turnovers is that, while yes every team has them, not every team has them with the frequency that the Irish have so far this year. In fact, NO team has. The Irish are currently 120th–dead last–in turnover differential. At the same time, they’ve been prolific at moving the ball (over 500 yards per game. Keith actually just posted a great analysis elsewhere on this blog demonstrating just how much those turnovers have cost the Irish in total points. Somewhere around 8 touchdowns. Take a look — it’s a good read (Irish Turnovers are Part of the Process, sept 13)

      Nudeman,

      On this point, we 100% agree.

      “All the great offense in the world, all the speed, great recruits, and everything else means nothing if they continue to fumble the ball away and throw interceptions.”

      You seem to continue to miss my point (although you insist that you get it). I can ,and I have ,and I will continue to state that if it hadn’t been for the turnovers , there likely would have been a different result. That isn’t inconsistent at all with the above statement.

      I’m not making excuses and I’m not claiming that the Irish are currently a great team. What they are is a team that has a lot of potential, and that, if they can correct the turnover problem, would be very good. When I say, “if it wasn’t for the turnovers” I am simply highlighting that fact. It’s why I’m not anywhere close to giving up on this team or the season. Because the turnover thing is fixable. And if they fix it, based on everything else they’ve been doing, we’ll likely see some very different results.

      • terryb101 - Sep 14, 2011 at 12:24 PM

        your right, but one last thing, turnovers happen,some years not so many other years seems like a lot, but the real root to our problem is the defense.this problem has been going on for years now.and for some reason it just cant seem to get fixed..poor tackling, horrible coverage.its like we get highly rated d backs and once they get here seems they forget how to cover…i understand what your saying, its like even tho our d is like a sieve.if we wouldnt have turned the ball over we would have won, but my point is i simply dont want to ‘just’ win, i want the team to be good, i dont want to have to worry that we have a lead and the other team has 80 yards to go and there is 30 secs left , gee hope we hang on…and know good and well even if the offense made a mistake that the defense will pick them up..yes i would love to have all the points lost by turnovers, and we may very well be 2-0, but you cant say that without the turnovers they would have scored..you can only go by what actually happens…and we all know what happened..ciao

      • nudeman - Sep 14, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        tedlinko,
        I get your point, and agree. Just can’t help ranting.
        I am so pissed that they’ve put of 1000+ yards of offense and are 0-2. Ridiculous.

        If you’ve looked at my other posts, you’ll notice I’m no fan of the kid at QB and STILL don’t understand why he with his 5 turnovers (4 INTs and 1 fumble) in 3 halves of football has such a short leash and Crist got yanked after 15 minutes. Rees, more than any other one player/coach is responsible for their record.

        And MSU this week is no pushover.

      • terryb101 - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:04 PM

        i would say the reason rees hadnt got yanked is because when he is in there the offense moves the ball, unlike when crist is in there

      • nudeman - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        terryb101
        You’re probably right, but at some point there has to be accountability. The kid has 4 INTs and a fumble in 6 quarters of football. That more than any one other thing is the reason they’re 0-2. Moving the ball is nice, but doesn no good if you give it away time and time again.

  10. ndkazoo - Sep 12, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    For the 3rd year in a row, Michigan continues to play ND far above their ability. Let’s just put this one behind us, clean up the turnovers and go after MSU – this is the perfect team and the perfect week to get this thing on track – it’s certainly not too late to be 10-2. GO IRISH!!

  11. 1historian - Sep 12, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    IMO Kelly pulled Crist because in spite of his physical skills and his being a fine young man, a credit to the University, etc. Crist is not the LEADER the team needs, especially when everyone and everything is coming apart on the field. He looked like a deer in the damn headlights last week in the 1st half.

    Rees – I remember the Tulsa game when he threw that interception at game’s end. Kelly had called the play and it was obviously a lousy call. Rees could have thrown the ball away. etc. – he threw an interception. He came off the field and Kelly went to pat him on the butt and Rees ignored him. I like that.

    Was he pissed at Kelly? At himself? Both.

    If Rees gets hurt or screws up Kelly has said that Crist is next guy in. BIG mistake – give Hendrix a chance. If Hendrix doesn’t get at least a chance he will probably transfer. Crist graduates, Hendrix transfers, there are no QBs in the pipeline right now, so next year we’re down to 2 scholarship QBs.

    Great.

  12. jimkress999 - Sep 12, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    “For those of you that took to the web to call for the head coach’s job, sent angry tweets to the team’s star middle linebacker, or picked fights with fellow fans sharing the same agony, do yourself a favor next time your favorite teams loses a close one: Turn off the computer and sleep on it.”

    Good advice.

  13. dmacirish - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    Keith – You are a man of reason, good advice and thoughtful decisions. (Any chance of free game tickets for the compliments?) Just joking – unless there is a chance which in that case I wasn’t joking. Anyway… Let me start by saying that I think Tommy played well but had some immature mistakes and a bit of misfortune, MF interceptions and fumble respectively. Do you think that there is a quarterback controversy or Tommy deserves to start next week? I was surprised not to see him in the good, bad, or ugly as it seems he might have been able to be put in any of those categories.

  14. goirish64 - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    I grew up being an ND fan since Ara Parseghian, graduated from a big 10 school (OSU) even a marching band member (wore an ND shirt under my uniform), been thru the ups and downs of being an ND fan, and I will not give up on this team. I was as ticked off as anyone after Sat. nite’s collapse, because I simply believe this team can beat anybody in the country when they are playing tough and smart. I feel they are just simply not letting the game come to them, I get the feeling sometimes they are trying to hard, and not getting a feel for the game.

    I have also not seen “the killer instinct” in an ND team since Lou Holtz’s era. This agrivates the crap out of me, when you have an opponent down keep them down. Other college teams around the country are capable of this, but I have not seen this out of ND for quite a while now.

    They need to go out and punish MSU, and establish an Identity.
    GO IRISH beat SPARTY

    • bostonjan - Sep 15, 2011 at 10:26 PM

      For what it’s worth, I completely agree with you – and come from the same era, altho I was fortunate to be part of the ND student body in those seemingly “ancient” days.

      With all due respects to Manti (this is not meant to be criticism) and our other very talented and hard working players, I miss seeing the teeth rattling hits – play after every play. The epitome of this was the “hitter of all “hitters” – Chris Zorich. To me, Zorich absolutely personified the “killer instinct” and playing with an attitude. He wouldn’t even accept a hand getting back up on his feet after a play! I suspect opponents dreaded to see the ball snapped and “feel” Zorich spring into action – at them. Ball carriers seem to be listening for this foot steps.

      This is the model I’d love to see our players emulate – discipline AND attitude. Or how about the days of the Catholics vs the Convicts….those teams (yes, the Irish teams) had swagger and would back down from No one. I loved the killer instinct behind the tunnel fights. AND they still played smart and disciplined ball.

      I’m realize that the game has evolved, times have changed, and players must execute in a different manner & level – much of which I admittedly do not understand. We’ve become the old(er) men & old fart alums that we would sneer as students. Still, I miss the game that was played with killer instinct and swagger……………

  15. NotreDan - Sep 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    BITTER bitter loss. We did it to ourselves again, the officials didn’t help. We haven’t been beaten yet, but we sure have lost.

    9 turnovers in 2 weeks, and we lose by a total of 7 points.

    The pressure must be unimaginable at this point, which is the most concerning part.

    This is now down to a matter of psychology, pure and simple.

    BK needs to find a way to turn the pressure into a positive.

    I, for one, will NEVER give up. It is not in my make-up. I still feel we have the right coach, the right talent, and the victories will come.

    I am now on the limb of guaranteeing a win against the skirted marauders, I mean… spartans.

    That’s right, GUARANTEED.

  16. rpbags - Sep 12, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    It just is amazing to me that year after year, when ND is going to “turn” the corner they have a season like this! The defense is the same ol Nd defense it always has been, 3-19 they give up 21, 3-4 they play 10 yards off the receiver’s, they blitz and it never gets there so that is the same as it has been for years but no suprise ther right? What gets me is the ability to let teams that have no business even being in the game hang around, 10 to’s in 2 weeks and they have lost by 7 points total and if we would of only had 7 to’s they would probably be 2-0 looking at MSU in town this week and even though it pains me to say this they will be 0-3 when sat is over just because when the wheel’s fall of this week it will be another train wreck…Probably drive to the one foot line and throw a pick or fumble it…but whats new……….GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. nddan1 - Sep 12, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    i have not read many “run the coach ” posts. my two cents is that hes got a four year window to get the irish back to a top ten team. lets take a look…..
    1st year struggles out of the gate and goes on to win a bowl game, albeit a crappy one against a team in total disfunction. we hoped for more, but settled and waited for the next season.
    2cnd year kelly makes first blunder by starting cryst over rees. my thought is that it cost us the game, but its ok because he didnt paint himself into a corner and made the right decision to move as quickly as he did. he laid the law down to t.j. and i dont blame him. harsh,you say? maybe, but by all accounts it looked as if the team responded sat. night. as you see coach kelly is not without fault so far this year, but against the two squads that we have faced, both of equal talent to the irish, we dominated yet different players have made key mistakes at critical times.
    the irish have a base team at this point. they are going to need key players to rise above mediocre.my key players…tao, calabresse, gray, harrison, rees, t.j. and riddick

  18. dtdt3535 - Sep 12, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Two equally pathetic defenses hammering it out for dismal win. ND if you can’t stop a team with 30 seconds left you need to take it back to pee wee league. You were dazed and confused. And big blue wasn’t much better.

  19. NDfan1224 - Sep 12, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    subscribe to my blog or at least check it out
    http://ndandhuskers.wordpress.com/

  20. kazmar619 - Sep 12, 2011 at 10:11 PM

    Basically ND ran a prevent defense all game long. It worked in the first half but Mich changed to a passsing offense in the 2nd half. If Diaco would have put some blitz packages in for the final two Mich drives, ND would have won the game. I think both loses were the coaches fault. I do believe Kelly learns from his mistakes.

  21. yaketyyacc - Sep 13, 2011 at 5:50 AM

    what do you think? after the USF loss, the coaches said, hey team don’t worry about the five turnovers, not a problem. were the plays called on offense and defense off the mark? kind of narrowing down to the players. who are young men. prone to knowing it all, why listen to: don’t fumble, don’t force the ball, don’t commit a stupid personal foul to satisy your ego, etc.
    the Notre Dame football team has some of the best talent, no question. and they should be 2-0, but they are not. and they have only to look in the mirror to see why. because their mistakes are elemenental, they are easily corected. first you have to admit you made them, and admiting you made them is half way to wisdom, and, a 10-2 season. we all know that the coaches and you want to win very badly. so do all of us. so, just go out there and do it. REALLY PLAY LIKE THE CHAMPIONS YOU ARE

  22. Huck Finn - Sep 13, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    Ouch

    I Don’t Mean to Ramble

  23. dickasman - Sep 14, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    Let’s not forget, BAD COACHING by fat irishman is also killing the fat irish.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/site/newspaper/sports/ct-spt-0914-haugh-notre-dame-football–20110914,0,519295.column

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