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Pregame Six Pack: Prepping for Pitt

Sep 23, 2011, 4:30 AM EDT

What a difference a week makes. Irish fans didn’t quite know what to make of last weekend’s game: an annual rivalry, a game the Irish usually don’t fare well in, and Las Vegas somehow favoring Notre Dame by almost a touchdown even though they were the team with an 0-2 record and Michigan State was undefeated and ranked No. 15 in the country.

Well the wise guys in Sin City are once again making a heavy move for the Irish, with the line opening with ND favored by 3.5 point only to double in hours. The Irish are a touchdown favorite against a Pitt team that’s a fourth quarter collapse away from being undefeated. Once again, there are still plenty of Irish fans waiting to jump back on the Notre Dame bandwagon. After years of being the worst bet in town, the Irish are now Vegas’ darling.

As we do every week, here are six fun facts, tidbits, leftovers and miscellaneous musings as the Fighting Irish prepare to take on Pittsburgh at 12:00 p.m. ET. (Join us for our live blog!)

1. For those complaining about Tommy Rees’ turnovers, you’re forgetting how football works.

There’s been a lot of bellyaching over sophomore Tommy Rees‘ rash of turnovers this season. His hometown newspaper, the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Patch has a nice feature on the new leading man at Notre Dame, and it looks at the “Good Tommy, Bad Tommy” phenomenon.

“He plays a good role. We don’t expect Tommy to be vocal guy,” said Floyd, predicted by many to be a 2012 first-round draft choice. “I put that on my hands to do that job. We just want to make sure Tommy gets the ball and does the right things and eliminates mistakes.”

Rees detractors — and there are many amongst Irish fans – -will reframe the debate around Floyd’s last comment. Consider this — in 10 quarters of play this season, Rees has turned the ball over seven times (five interceptions, two lost fumbles).

This burgeoning demon reared its ugly head in the first quarter against the Spartans when Rees fumbled and threw an interception on back-to-back drives. The “oh, here we go again” chorus inside Notre Dame stadium was as loud as the pre-game one for “God Bless America.”

But that’s life with a young quarterback. When Brian Kelly pulled the quick hook on Dayne Crist‘s season, he did so knowing that Rees would make youthful mistakes, but that the good would out-weigh the bad.

For those ready to get rid of Rees, let’s take a quick look back at Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen, two quarterbacks that turned out to be some of the better players in Notre Dame history. We’ll compare all three’s first seven starts, and then their sophomore numbers:

Brady Quinn:

First Seven Starts: 121 of 258 (47%) 5 TD, 11 INT, 86.1 QB Rating. W/L Record: 3-4
Sophomore Season: 191 of 353 (54%) 17 TD, 10 INT, 125.9 QB Rating. W/L Record: 6-6

Jimmy Clausen:

First Seven Starts: 99 of 175 (56%) 4 TD, 5 INT, 93.1 QB Rating. W/L Record: 1-6
Sophomore Season: 268 of 440 (61%) 25 TD, 17 INT, 132.5 QB Rating. W/L Record: 7-6

Tommy Rees*:

First Seven Starts: 139 of 220 (63%) 16 TD, 10 INT, 138.7 QB Rating. W/L Record: 5-2
Sophomore Season: 69 of 99 (70%) 6 TD, 5 INT, 145.1 QB Rating. W/L Record: 1-1

*Stats include the Tulsa game as a start.

It’s pretty easy to see by just about every measure you can think of, Rees is off to a much better pace than the two other guys that have rewritten the Notre Dame passing record books. As you can tell by Tommy’s sophomore season, his efficiency is so impressive in spite of his interceptions, mostly powered by a near 70 percent completion percentage. Nobody wants to see interceptions and fumbles. It’s just what you get when you go with an inexperienced quarterback. What separates Rees is what he does when he’s not turning it over.

2. Paging Darius Fleming, Darius Fleming, the Irish defense requests your help.

With a season at Cat linebacker under his belt, everybody thought senior linebacker Darius Fleming was primed for a big final season at Notre Dame. That included his head coach:

“He’ll be one of the more explosive players in the country this year,” Kelly said. “He’s just comfortable now. Last year it was all robotic. It was ‘get to this spot,’ now he flows to that spot. It’s a big difference.”

That explosion hasn’t showed up yet, with Fleming struggling to produce with dual-threat quarterbacks B.J. Daniels and Denard Robinson neutralizing one of the Irish’s best pass rushing threats.

After two games, Kelly wasn’t ready to praise Fleming’s productivity. But after his best Saturday of the year, Kelly is hopeful his senior linebacker is ready to elevate his game.

“He had his best game of the year,” Kelly said. “Last week I was asked about him. I think my comments were ‘Good, not great.’ We have a high bar for him. He played great. He played his best game of the year. One time is an accident I told him. Twice, you know you’re trending in the right direction. Hopefully we see it again.”

In many ways, Fleming’s poor play hurts both linebacker positions because it’s also keeping Prince Shembo away from the Cat linebacker position, somewhere he’s a better fit for because of his natural pass rush ability. (Now, Shembo spends most snaps standing half-way in the slot of the field side.) Fleming struggled to get out of the gates last year as well but rallied. Let’s see if Darius does so against a Pitt offensive line that’s dreadful against pass rushes.

3. Aaron Lynch might just be getting started.

You’ve got to love Aaron Lynch. The freshman defensive end showed his age when he mistakenly answered a question about Pittsburgh’s suspect pass blocking honestly.

Lou Somogyi of Blue & Gold Illustrated has more:

When Notre Dame freshman defensive end Aaron Lynch met with the media this Wednesday, he was asked about a Pitt offense that ranked 114th in sacks allowed per game (4.0). Most notably, FCS opponent Maine had recorded seven against the Panthers in its 35-29 defeat on Sept. 10.

When asked about those figures, Lynch responded honestly and directly.

“I’m not down on Maine or anything, but I know Notre Dame’s pass rush defense with all the guys we have is more dominant … it makes us happy to know that another team got seven, so that just builds us up to like we’re going to get 10 or 12,” Lynch said. “That’s how I look at it.”

Oops, a classic rookie mistake. Several feet away, Notre Dame’s director of football media operations, Brian Hardin, cringed and shook his head. The proper and politically correct response would have been, “We have great respect for Pitt and we know they have a great offensive line.”

Ten or twelve sacks would be a miracle afternoon for the Irish. But after analyzing Lynch’s effort last Saturday, maybe a historic performance isn’t that far away.

Early in the week, we took a closer look at Lynch’s impressive Saturday, an afternoon where one sack could’ve just as easily been three or four if it weren’t for veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ quick trigger. I mentioned that Lynch’s six quarterback hurries were better than the entire Irish defense in every game but Utah last year. Lynch’s six quarterback hurries would also have been good for a season-high last year, besting Fleming, Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore, who each had five QB hurries to tie for the team lead in all of 2010.

4. With Irish punt returns, expect the unexpected. Especially this Saturday.

Don’t worry, the Irish won’t plan on muffing another punt on Saturday, with Theo Riddick and John Goodman already coughing up the football at really inopportune times. With four guys in the running to return punts — Riddick, Goodman, Robby Toma and Harrison Smith — Kelly’s also taking into consideration some of the tweaks the Panthers run in their standard punt return game.

“They’ll be times when we don’t have a punt returner in punting situations on the field because they leave the quarterback on the field so we’ve got to be prepared for that,” Kelly said. “We’ve had Harrison Smith back there in case we obviously get into a situation where we believe they’re going to punt for sure. It’s rather deceptive in a sense that they take the quarterback and only move him back a couple of yards so you really can’t tell if they’re running an offensive play. So we’ll get our punt team out there but we may not get them out when the quarterback is still on the field.”

For those of you that have been asking for a way to just keep a return man away from the ball, Tulsa’s tricky scheme might just be the answer to your prayers.

5. The battle on Saturday might not just be on the football field. It might make its way up to the pressbox, too.

Along with long-time Big East member Syracuse, Pitt shocked the college sports world with the announcement that the two teams would be leaving the Big East and joining the ACC, setting off another flurry of madness that had the college football world on nuclear alert until Larry Scott and the Pac-12 told the rest of the country to stand down.

Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noticed that Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick — as he was last year — was right in the middle of things. Only this time, Swarbrick voiced his displeasure over Pitt chancellor Mark Dordenberg and athletic director Steve Pederson‘s decision to abandon the Big East to USA Today.

Here’s what Swarbrick said:

“I don’t understand it. How do you vote as a collegiate president on something that has the potential to provide some benefit for your institution and the conference you’re affiliated with but has a very negative consequence for a host of other members of the academy, as presidents like to call it? I’d like to know how much of these discussions are: What’s right? What is the best thing for the larger enterprise, and how many other schools would be adversely impacted?” Swarbrick went on to criticize Nordenberg for taking a leadership position in fighting to keep the Big East together and “with no notice to anybody, abandoning it. That’s hard to understand in the context of an industry in which collegiality and integrity are supposed to be such key parts.”

Cook doesn’t seem to like Swarbrick’s comments. More from the Pittsburgh columnist:

It’s pretty hard to get too upset with Marinatto. His conference was left for dead as a football league with the Pitt and Syracuse defections. Of course, he’s going to be bitter. Beyond that, blaming someone else is a lot easier than looking in the mirror and seeing a weak leader staring back, a weak leader who showed no signs of being able to keep the Big East together. Michael Tranghese and Dave Gavitt — great Big East commissioners before him — he is not.

But offensive and preposterous don’t even begin to describe Swarbrick’s remarks. How dare he criticize any other university’s leadership for looking after its school’s best interests? He and his Notre Dame bosses aren’t the least bit interested in any “larger enterprise.” They care only about Notre Dame’s bottom line. That doesn’t make them wrong or bad people. Any of us in their position would do the same thing. But it does make Swarbrick a hypocrite. I repeat: How dare he?

The Big East has been good to Notre Dame. It has given it a home for its men’s and women’s basketball teams and its Olympic sports teams while allowing it to keep its independent status in football. That’s enabled Notre Dame to retain all of its television money from its NBC contract instead of dividing it evenly with conference partners. Remember, the Notre Dame leaders are stone cold, bottom-line people. Clearly, they don’t like to share.

If Notre Dame officials cared about the Big East, they could have saved it by joining as a football member. If that had happened, there’s no doubt the Big East would be a heavyweight in the college game. Pitt and Syracuse wouldn’t have left. Other schools — maybe, just maybe, even Penn State — would be fighting to join. That’s the clout that Notre Dame has.

It’s clear that Swarbrick might have kicked a hornet’s nest or two in the Steel City, but both sides of this argument have some validity. Swarbrick and about a million other rational people are wondering if university chancellors and leaders are really as greedy as they seem, willing to tip over decades of tradition and put college sports into upheaval just to chase more money for their school, all while leaving decades-long partners in a lurch. Cook and other Big East supporters have long bristled at the Irish’s arrangement with the Big East, a seemingly one-sided partnership that gives Irish sports a home while still keeping football independent. It’s true that Swarbrick’s likely making his point loud and clear because he’s against the kind of upheaval that’ll force the Irish to give up their football independence and pick a conference for all sports.

That said, Notre Dame — even without football — has done plenty to help the Big East. To say any differently would be ignoring a lot of truths.

6. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a… No! Not a Jumbotron!

Relax Irish fans, Brian Kelly really doesn’t have a vote. But for all those traditionalists out there, the time is coming sooner than you’d like to believe. And if it were up to the head coach, a Jumbotron will be coming to Notre Dame Stadium.

Brian Hamilton explains:

“I think it enhances obviously the game experience more than anything else,” Kelly said during his weekly radio show Thursday night. “I’m not afraid to say it’s a great addition because it creates a great atmosphere in the stadium.

“As well as (promoting) your brand — I thought one of the nice things Michigan did was that the scoreboard did not have any advertising. It just had their brand on there. So, yeah, count me in favor of that. But as I’ve said many times before, they’re not going to be polling me as to whether we get a Jumbotron or not.”

Genuine or not, Kelly insisted this was merely a commentary on the times and not a hand-tipping.

“I don’t have any inside information on this, but I would be surprised if we didn’t have a Jumbotron at some time in Notre Dame Stadium,” Kelly said. “Everybody is watching TV, you’ve got superconferences and all kinds of things going. If you’re going to stay in this arena, I’m sure things will change. It’s just going to take some time.”

After the Irish’s game in Yankee Stadium last season and seeing the new video boards in Michigan Stadium, there’s a ton of support inside the Notre Dame athletic department for a Jumbotron, something that’d truly enhance the stadium experience and go a long way toward keeping the home fans engaged and enthusiastic.

There will always be those “old school” fans that hate the idea, but nobody is asking to use the video screen like USC does at the Coliseum, screeching out commercials and advertisements at decibel levels nearly inhumane. With the Irish’s digital assets looking better and better as the years go by (take a look at UND.com’s new videos if you don’t know what I’m talking about), it only makes more sense to join the 21st century by installing a tastefully done video screen (and some field turf).

Nobody wants to adorn Touchdown Jesus in Ed Hardy, they just want to make Saturday afternoon a better experience. If that gets fans up from sitting on their hands, even the biggest curmudgeons in ND Nation shouldn’t have a problem with that.

  1. 9irish - Sep 23, 2011 at 5:55 AM

    wow…that’s a lot of stuff. I like the jumbotron idea, they just need to figure out how to do it. Everyone forgets how much things changed when they expanded the stadium…everyone got over it. The whole conference thing is looming out there….I think ND is most resistant to it, not only for monetary reasons, but because it would limit their ability to continue old rivalries. I think the Big Ten has always been the logical place to go if you had to…but now all of the geographical stuff seems to have gone out the window…and if the Big Ten gets bigger (like 14…or 16) some of those teams might not even be able to play ND anymore.

  2. brendanunderscoreg - Sep 23, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    The Jumbotron is nice and all. But, field turf should be the priority.

    • nudeman - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      brendan

      Field turf. Seriously? That would be like putting linoleum down in St. Peter’s Basilica.
      How about a dome too? Or change the colors to purple and yellow?

      No way. This isn’t like Soldier Field where the bad grass and complaints from players are legendary. ND is all grass all the time. Period.

      • brendanunderscoreg - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:16 AM

        If you are saying “No” because grass leads to better performance then I might be willing to listen. But, saying “No” to grass just for tradition’s sake falls on deaf ears here. I think many Notre Dame fans have forgotten how innovative ND has been throughout college football’s history beginning with Rockne all the way up to ND becoming the only school to get their own major broadcasting contract. If anything, the field turf and jumbotron is long overdue and ND would be merely catching up to the rest of D-1, let alone surpassing them.

      • nudeman - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:25 AM

        I have no problem with a jumbotron. Not sure where they’d put it though; it can’t block TD Jesus. Perhaps they could put a couple in opposite corners so everyone would have a good view of at least one. I think it definitely would add to the game experience.

        I see zero reason for field turf. The grass at ND is beautiful and I can’t remember any complaints about the playing surface at ND Stadium. I’m sure somewhere along the way on a bad day there has been a complaint or two, but nothing even approaching a chorus of objections.

        Also, players at all levels(HS, College, NFL) have consistently said natural grass, as long as it is well maintained, is by far their preferred surface.

      • Keith Arnold - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:49 PM

        Nudeman – I was down on the grass before the USF game. It’s pretty mediocre, and Charlie Weis used to have it painted green. Notre Dame is doing everything they can to make it better, but they know it’s a bad surface and so does just about everyone that plays there.

        It might not be Soldier Field bad, but it’s in the rear view mirror.

      • ndgoldandblue - Sep 23, 2011 at 3:36 PM

        I’m actually with nudeman on this. Some outdoor sports should just be played on grass. Also, does anyone remember the Fiesta Bowl in ’89 (I know, it was a long, long time ago)? West Virginia was used to playing on the faster, surer turf surface. The Fiesta Bowl, however, was played on real grass. While we all know that the Irish were far more talented, the experience of playing on a grass surface certainly didn’t hurt the Irish in that game. Everyone knows that field turf allows the players to play a faster brand of football, but I would rather have an Irish team that is used to playing on an uncertain surface (like the grass at ND Stadium) than a team that has gotten so used to playing on field turf that they look sluggish when they play against teams who play on real grass. Besides, how would field turf significantly help the Irish? Both teams have to play each other on the same surface. It’s not like changing footballs during possession switches.

      • notredamegrad - Sep 23, 2011 at 6:24 PM

        This is a really interesting point, ndgoldandblue. If Notre Dame has a slightly more difficult, slightly slower surface in keeping the grass, and they learn to play well on it, doesn’t that give them the advantage (1) when teams that play on faster, easier turf come to visit and (2) when ND plays away games on that turf? It’s like doing drills in sand and then moving to a hard surface to compete – it makes you that much quicker, more powerful, stronger, etc.

        The thing that concerns me is that the team does not practice on grass, but on turf (LeBar and the indoor field). Since they are only playing on grass for live games, then (and for a very occasional practice in the stadium), doesn’t that neutralize any advantage they would have by practicing and playing on a grass field?

        I mean, I prefer football played in real grass where the game can get messy and muddy in bad weather, where the field is part of the game, but that’s just me.

    • paiten34 - Sep 23, 2011 at 7:14 PM

      The fact is that an injury is more likely to happen on field turf than on grass. The surface of field turf can can be 5 to 10 degrees hotter than a grass field. People have brought up Soldier Field as an example when it’s comparing apples to oranges. Soldier Field is a multi use field with high school, college, pro football games and concerts all using the field destroying the grass. On the other hand Notre Dame stadium only plays host to ND football games so the grass stays in good shape. The only time that I’ve seen the field at ND stadium in bad shape was for the USF game when the area was hit with heavy rain so sand had to be used to soak up the water.

      As for the cost it’s not as cost effective as most people think. It’s about a million bucks up front with a max shelf life of 10 years. After that it’s about 600,000 to refill and resurface the field. A new grass field only cost about 50,000 with about that same cost in up-keep yearly.

      As for the myth of a faster surface lets just take a look at who plays on what surface. The SEC, is considered the fastest conference in the country but who plays on turf in the SEC? All of the last 6 national champions all play on grass fields. Than you look at the big ten where most of their teams play on field turf. Of the major players in the big ten Only Penn State plays on grass. Most studies show that a 40 time is about the same regardless of surface. Agility test do show that players have better numbers on turf VS grass. Almost 90% of players perfer grass over turf.

  3. brendanunderscoreg - Sep 23, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    The Jumbotron is nice and all. But, field turf should be the priority.

    • paiten34 - Sep 23, 2011 at 7:23 PM

      A player is 61% more likely to hurt a knee or ankle playing on turf VS grass.

  4. ndfanwabashman - Sep 23, 2011 at 8:26 AM

    My problem with Michigan’s jumbotron was the lack of information. The scoreboard was often hidden by replays or giant montages of the coach and players asking people to “stand up, make noise!” When it was shown, it was late to update often not showing correct points, down and distance, etc.

    I like football, that’s what I go to Notre Dame to watch. I want to know where the ball is, what down it is, and how far they have to go. If I want to see all that other stuff I would watch it at home. I agree with the double poster above, field turf is much more of a priority in that stadium, the field is in terrible shape.

  5. bernhtp - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    Items like a jumbotron always sound good in the abstract given their obvious entertainment benefits, but you often come to a different conclusion when you think about the reality. I am not much of a traditionalist, but the jumbotron is problematic. First, I find them a bit distracting and garish in typical implementation – I’ve been to the UT stadium, USC Coliseum, and a couple of pro venues in the last year. Then there is the cost.

    Adding a jumbotron to a stadium not designed for one like Notre Dame’s would require the elimination of thousands of seats. I have no expertise in stadium design/engineering but I’m pretty sure you can’t just stick one on top of the south-end stadium top. Jumbotrons are either atop a lower end part of the stadium bowl or embedded into the seating area. Let’s say embedding one into the upper tier (slightly going over the topline) of the south endzone would eliminate 5000 seats. If each seat (ticket face value plus concession revenue) yields $100, that’s $3M per year in lost revenue before counting the costs of the jumbotron, construction, operation, maintenance, periodic upgrades, etc. It’s a lot of money.

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/26/40181759_b4e481b1cb_z.jpg?zz=1

    For many, if the University were to eliminate thousands of seats, they would rather see them come from the north end in order to return Touchdown Jesus, but I don’t expect this to happen either.

  6. hyde - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Keith, I can’t say that getting a Jumbotron is going to keep some ND fans from telling other ND fans to sit down. ND has a lot of old curmudgeons in the stadium. That’s the biggest problem with the stadium atmosphere. If fans want to sit down and watch the game, do it somewhere else.

    If ND wants to keep us updated, they could just bring in more cell towers during home games. I would then be able to have a Jumbotron in my pocket:)

    • brendanunderscoreg - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:18 AM

      Amen

  7. rambler09 - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    I really don’t like the argument lines ‘everyone else is doing it…’ or ‘this is the 21st century’. I’m only 25, but these arguments (which are used all the time) don’t carry much weight with me. It should never be about what everyone else is doing- Notre Dame needs to do its own thing.

    When people ask me about what I love about the Notre Dame game day experience, I always mention the simple old-school feel of the stadium. It’s unique. It helps me to be aware of the generations of Notre Dame fans and players that have shared that very experience. One thing that I love about Notre Dame is that it doesn’t (always) buy into the mentality of every other university and athletic program in the country. We do our own thing. We deeply value our traditions.

    I was at the night game at the Big House… and I found myself longing for the simplicity of Notre Dame Stadium. It felt like the game had turned into a production- and I didn’t like it.

  8. irishfan2791 - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    I’m not worried about the whole conference thing as others, we’re talking about ND here, and when you play ND you make money and lots of it, the Michigan schools, and USC are always gonna play ND, so are the military academies, Stanford is a good rival, thats half our schedule right there, and the way Notre Dame travels around the country to play anyone I think Jack will be able to keep the schedule up it what it should be. I like the Jumberton Idea but field turf? I love the grass fields like ND and MSU especially when the weather is crappy, THATS FOOTBALL BABY!!! final note Aaron Lynch is a MAN

  9. bernhtp - Sep 23, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Here is a good article on geographic fan loyalty, which obviously has an impact on conference affiliation.

    http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/19/the-geography-of-college-football-fans-and-realignment-chaos/?src=twrhp&utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=http%3a%2f%2fthequad.blogs.nytimes.com%2f2011%2f09%2f19%2fthe-geography-of-college-football-fans-and-realignment-chaos%2f%3fsrc%3dtwrhp&utm_campaign=Cynopsis+Sports+09%2f20%2f11

    • cgunnip - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:12 PM

      I live in NY and any article that states Rutgers has more fans in NY must be smoking something. On a side note, is it possible, Keith, to add Dayne Crists stats for his first seven starts?

      • hyde - Sep 27, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        Yeah, why not put up Dayne’s numbers for his first 7 starts? Here they are:

        174 for 292 (60%) 15 TD, 7 INT, 130.2 rating, Win/Loss 4-3

        Not too shabby.

      • hyde - Sep 27, 2011 at 4:23 PM

        Actually his stats for 7 games are:

        155 for 261 (59%) 1,855 yards, 14 TD, 5 INT, 132 rating, Win/Loss 4-3

    • 9irish - Sep 24, 2011 at 3:00 AM

      I read that and it’s very interesting. It can be interpreted 18K ways, but good info. Thanks

  10. footballace - Sep 23, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    Call me old fashion but I like the Grass. Yes it does slow the players down, but its also a great equalizer when visiting teams who are used to playing on turf come to Notre Dame.

    Get Goodman off the punt receiving team. He scares me every time he is back their and last week he showed why he scares me.

  11. ragingirish - Sep 23, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Good post other than the Rees stuff. Comparing Rees to Quinn and Clausen shows that it could be worse and might get better. That’s about it. It has no bearing on who should start. Both Quinn and Clausen were coveted recruits with tons of talent. They had the most potential of any QB on the roster at each respective time. The other QBs just weren’t very good. Also, those teams were terrible. Notre Dame wasn’t going very far with either team so it made sense to put the kids in to get experience because they would be carrying the team in a few years. Right now we have a team that was supposed to be a BCS contender and still is as far as I’m concerned. Now isn’t the time to work through growing pains. Finally, we have a bench with a senior, red shirt freshman and true freshman who all have more physical talent than Rees. The comparison to Quinn and Clausen is next to meaningless. Yes, most young QB’s struggle. That’s hardly an argument for benching your more talented veteran.

    • notredamegrad - Sep 23, 2011 at 7:51 PM

      I agree. It’s also important to remember that at this point, Rees has as much playing time under his belt (about 8 games’ worth) as Crist does. He’s not any younger or less experienced playing college ball than Crist is. His mistakes, poor decisions, and turnovers, whether few or many, should no longer be excused as “growing pains” or par-for-the-course with a young, “inexperienced” QB. He’s a vet as much as Crist is.

      • 1notredamefan - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:00 PM

        Ask Peyton Manning that question! Reading defenses is not something you come out of high school with a high degree of ability in! Manning probably is the best there ever was, is or will be for some time, but he wasn’t born with that ability!

  12. tlndma - Sep 23, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    I’m suprised by many of the responses here. The playing surface at ND has been awful the last 5-6 yrs. This is not debatable. Large chunks of sod being ripped up as players cut and many plays failing due to players slipping. I don’t know how the sod can be so bad, when there are only six games a yr. played on it. If this situation cannot be fixed, field turf becomes a necessity.

    • paiten34 - Sep 23, 2011 at 8:17 PM

      I guess I just don’t see what you see. No, the field Isn’t perfect but it’s still a nice surface. I loved it when Lou Holtz grew the grass extra thick and high VS Florida ST in 1993. I even thought it was funny when Charlie Weis tried the same thing in 2005 VS USC. With turf you can’t do that and I think that would be a shame. A grass field will never be perfect like a turf field but it’s vastly superior to any other playing surface.

  13. 1notredamefan - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:43 PM

    Great read, Keith!!!

    Nudeman, Now that Keith has outlined the stats and cleared the air on our talking points, what have you to say? I personally can’t see a better choice for ND QB in the whole of College Football (now and in future) than our #1 man TOMMY REES!!! When the turnovers are cured and they will, we win BIG!

    Just wondering,
    1ndfan

  14. 1notredamefan - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    Turf?…….Grass?…….Spread Offense?……….. Turf Baby in BK I trust!!!!!

  15. cgunnip - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    Wonder if ND fans cared this much about tradition when Gus Dorais unleashed the forward pass?

  16. jerseyshorendfan1 - Sep 24, 2011 at 12:53 AM

    Keep the grass, it’s safer for the players and it gives opposing coaches the ability to argue that we grow the grass long on purpose to slow down their running game. Haven’t heard that one in a while. As for the issue of the Jumbotron, I’m all for it. I like, nay love, tradition as much as the next guy but you don’ t see leather helmets out there anymore do you? Why not? Because its the 21st century and advances in equipment and technology have made the game better for the players. Well, how about doing something to make the game day experience better for the fans? It is time for the Jumbotron, just make sure its tastefully done and not too Jerry Jones-ish.

  17. massivedick - Sep 24, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    I sure hope we win this weekend
    Really really do
    I think Pitt is not as good as State
    Sure hope we show up
    How could we question our team

    Should we loose i will still be happy for the win last week
    Unless we get blown out
    Can’t wait
    Keep up the good work

  18. barneysbullet - Sep 24, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    How bout putting the jumbotron on outside of stadium wall for all the tailgaters in parking lot…hmmm?

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