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Pregame six pack: Navy edition

Oct 28, 2011, 1:25 AM EST

Ken Niumatalolo, Emmett Merchant

Backed into a corner, Brian Kelly‘s first Irish football team overcame a ton of adversity before finishing last season in style. Facing Todd Graham’s Tulsa squad just days after the death of Declan Sullivan, the Irish lost their starting quarterback in the opening minutes of the game before losing in the final seconds. Given a bye week to gather itself, the 2010 edition of the Irish went on to win their final four games, finishing the season in style.

With the Irish sitting at 4-3, the 2011 Irish have a chance to avenge one of their worst defeats from last year. But don’t expect Kelly to find too many parallels between last year’s challenges and those that face this team.

“Last year’s team overcame adversity,” Kelly said. “This year’s team needs to overcome itself. They need to play better consistently. Adversity to me is a bigger picture. We had adversity last year. This year, our guys just need to play better football.”

It’s a simple solution to grasp. Achieving it has proven to be much tougher. Both Notre Dame and Navy come into this Saturday’s game with a bad taste in their mouths. We’ve spent plenty of time talking about Notre Dame’s disappointing loss to USC. Navy has had its own string of disappointing defeats, the latest coming last Saturday against East Carolina.

As Notre Dame puts its finishing touches on prepping for the dreaded triple-option of the Midshipmen, here are six fun facts, tidbits, leftovers and miscellaneous musings as the Irish prepare to take on Navy at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

***

Don’t hold your breath on the Jumbotron. But a new playing surface might be right around the corner.

Earlier in the week, Brian Kelly got some Irish traditionalists up in arms with his open embrace of a Jumbotron in Notre Dame Stadium.

“Eventually, we want a big Jumbotron in there,” Kelly said. “We think that’s going to be something that adds to the atmosphere, too. It won’t be my decision to make. I can only give you my thoughts, and I think I have sprinkled that in the conversations. I don’t think it’s a mystery that we would like that, but it’s not going to be my call.”

Opponents of a video-board seem to think that it’ll turn the “stadium experience” into some kind of slimy commercialized product-placement fest. Proponents see it as an obvious way to keep the fans engaged, promote the unparalleled traditions and history Notre Dame has, while actually helping people see what happened on the field.

(If you were at Yankee Stadium last year, you’ll know how great it was. Come to think of it, if you were at the Compton Family Ice Arena last weekend, you’d have seen it first hand, too.)

Any number of the Irish’s main corporate partners would be happy to help offset the cost of the video board. That said, don’t look for a video-board anytime in the near future. But when it comes to a new field surface, that change might not be too far away.

One source close to the football program has told me that Notre Dame will begin serious research on replacing the stadium’s natural grass as soon as the season finishes. No option has been taken off the table yet — keeping the natural surface is certainly still in play. So is replacing the grass with field turf, the surface already on the LaBar practice fields.

An interesting option that might make everybody happy is a surface to what the Packers use in Green Bay. It’s a natural grass surface that’s also reinforced with man-made synthetic fibers, that’s set on a sand-based soil.

Beneath the field is a heating system, irrigation lines and drainage system that has turned the surface into some of the best and safest in the NFL. It’s also designed to keep the grass and ground at 55 degrees even on a day when the temperature is well below freezing.

After years of mediocre playing surfaces often times holding back the athleticism on Notre Dame’s sidelines, any change to the current grass would be a good one. And at a place like Lambeau Field, where tradition also has its own very important place, the Irish might have a perfect match.

***

Stop the fullback, win the game.

Two years ago, it was Vince Murray. Last year it was Alexander Teich. Whoever it is, the Irish need to tackle the fullback.

In Charlie Weis and Jon Tenuta’s last game against the Midshipmen, Murray averaged 11.3 yards a carry — a career game for the Navy fullback. Last year, Teich went for a career high 210 yards on 26 carries.

Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco knows the pressure is on his unit, a year after allowing 367 yards on the ground, the most ever by Navy in the 85 year history of this rivalry.

“They’ve seen every single thing that can be done to defend the offense,” Diaco said of the challenges Navy presents. “There are only a few things that can be done, so effort and fundamentally sound football and a clear understanding of the plan, and it always helps to get the team off schedule.”

As we mentioned yesterday, Navy will be without Kris Proctor, the Midshipmen’s leading rusher with 591 yards and 8 touchdowns. And while Teich got off to a quick start before he was suspended for the Southern Miss game, he’s had a modest 30 carries for 110 yards in the two games since, numbers the Irish would certainly take on Saturday.

Still — The Midshipmen have had a fullback come out of the woodwork in each of the last two years to star. If they can stop that from happening, they’ll be in good shape.

***

Putting together winning streaks hasn’t been easy.

People hardly noticed, but the loss to Southern Cal broke just the second four-game winning streak that the Irish have had since back in 2006. Up until the closing four games of the season, this senior class just hasn’t been able to string together victories, something that’s frustrated Kelly and this coaching staff.

“They either can’t do it or won’t do it, and I’ve got to cure the can’ts and the won’ts, and that’s the process,” Kelly said. “We’re a work in progress. We’re working through it. We can win three or four in a row, but we can’t string together seven or eight or nine or 10 in a row. I want to string together 12 and 13 in a row. We can string together three or four and that’s not good enough.”

Kelly used the “can’t and won’t” parallel a few times on Thursday, making an interesting distinction on players that can be taught the right way to do things and players that simply won’t do things the right way. He said it’s his job to teach those that want to learn and leave behind those that won’t. It’ll be interesting to monitor if there are veterans that suddenly see the field less in the coming weeks.

“It’s not about being physical,” Kelly said about adjusting his practices in hopes of getting consistent play. “It’s about being accountable, it’s about doing it the right way all the time, and we’re in that conscious incompetent stage.”

***

Even in the midst of a ugly run, Navy’s got a chance to set a school record.

With a 2-5 record and victories against only Delaware and Western Kentucky, the Midshipmen look every bit the twenty-point underdog that Las Vegas considers them. But there’s every reason to believe that Navy will consider this the biggest game left on their schedule, even taking into consideration the Army game that always closes the season.

If Navy wins on Saturday, it’ll be the first time in school history that Navy would defeat the Irish in three consecutive games. It’d also mark the first time the Midshipmen have won three straight games in South Bend. A victory would give Navy four wins in five tries after losing an NCAA record 43 times in a row.

“We’re at the lowest of the lows,” Navy defensive captain Jabaree Tuani said after losing another heartbreaker to East Carolina. “I know this team has a great fighting spirit and will continue to work.”

With everybody in the stadium concentrating on the Navy triple-option, sophomore quarterback Trey Miller might give the Navy offense an added dimension.

“In every one of their games, they’ve hit the shot pass for a TD,” Kelly said. “They’re going to get matchups to throw the ball. The option game isn’t just the run game, you’ve gotta stop the pass game too.”

Irish fans still cringe thinking about one-on-one pass coverage, especially on underthrown routes. While Miller might give the Irish a break on their true option responsibilities, his ability to throw could add another wrinkle to the game plan.

***

The Navy defense is there for the taking.

If you’re looking for a reason that the Midshipmen have fallen back to earth after an astounding run, the defensive stats tell the story:

  • 103rd in rushing defense
  • 111th in passing efficiency defense
  • 95th in total defense
  • 83rd in scoring defense
  • 110th in sacks
  • 117th in TFLs.

The defensive ineptitude is even more incredible when you consider that Navy possesses the ball for over 31 minutes a game, only about 20 seconds less than they did last year. But Buddy Green‘s unit is injury ravaged, a horrible mix when you’re already dealing with subpar talent. Green has talked about changing things up as he prepares for a talented Irish offense.

“The changes we’re talking about are basically personnel. We’re out of linebackers. We’re running low on corners. We’ve got defensive linemen banged up,” Green told the Annapolis Capital Gazette. “We’re looking at getting personnel in different places because we’ve got so many people hurt. We’re trying to find the right places for everyone and pulling together a two-deep.”

The Irish don’t expect to completely shut down the Navy offense. But the Irish should be able to dominate both on the ground and in the air against Navy. It’ll just be up to them to convert their opportunities in the red zone.

***

The future is now for Tuitt, Lynch, and Hounshell.

Needless to say, the earliest anybody saw a starting trio of Aaron Lynch, Louis Nix, and Stephon Tuitt was in 2012, not after seven games of their first season. But that’s the way 2011 has played out, with Sean Cwynar limited for much of the year with a broken hand, Ethan Johnson hobbled by a high ankle sprain, and now Kapron Lewis-Moore sidelined with knee surgery.

“”It is what it is, I’m not making an excuse for it,” Diaco said this week. “The young guys are playing roles they really shouldn’t have to be playing right now. They’re really not ready to play the amount of reps they’re having to play each week.”

But that certainly won’t stop them. Expect a healthy dose of Lynch, Tuitt, Chase Hounshell and probably Troy Niklas as well on Saturday. That group will have to go up against the strength of Navy’s football team, an offensive line that propels one of the nation’s best rushing attacks.

“It’s an outstanding offensive line,” Kelly said. “It’s much better than Air Force’s offensive line. That’s the strength of this team, those returning starters. They can control the ball.”

For Tuitt, we’ve already seen that he can succeed playing against an option team, as he was active against Air Force. Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune points out that it was likely from Tuitt’s experience playing for a high school team that ran the trip option itself.

“Our own offense is triple-option, so in spring practice and for the first three weeks of fall camp, he saw it and played against it every day,” high school coach Matt Figg told Hansen. “He was so good at it in high school, he could take the dive and the pitch.”

Just as important as Tuitt, Lynch needs to rebound after doing more to hurt the Irish than help them last week. Lynch let his frustration get the best of him, committing his fourth personal foul of the season, a number that speaks to a freshman needed to gain some maturity.

With a front line on the field that’s a year or two from being ready, Kelly didn’t seem to worked up about his personnel choices.

“You’d rather have veterans in there, but those guys will be fine,” Kelly said.

  1. norcalirish - Oct 28, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    Do you guys honestly believe that field turf will make a difference? That we will win more games because of it? This almost sounds like those people who fault the refs for loss after loss—grasping at straws. I’m no expert, but I just did a quick google search and found a site that pretty much proves that there is only a 3% difference in the speed of agility drills and NO difference in 40 speed from turf to grass.

    So, let’s say that, for sake of argument, 3% agility speed is a big deal. Wouldn’t that affect the other team too? Don’t they ALSO get 3% faster? Or is this some sort of magical grass that only makes OUR team faster? And seeing how (more often than not) our players tend to be slower than the michigans and the uscs of the world (not to mention oregon and the high calibre sec teams)…uhhh…HOW is this an advantage for Notre Dame? Wasn’t it just a few years ago when usc was complaining about ND growing the grass too long in order to SLOW DOWN reggie bush? And now we want to speed it UP? Why? So our corners can get beat that much FASTER?

    Like I said, I’m no expert. Is there something I’m missing? Injury benefits or something? Or maybe the elimination of landscaping jobs at the University? (Hard times under a dome of gold, you know). Or maybe they just want to pull a george lucas and rewrite Rudy to exclude the scenes where the helmets are being painted and the grass is being kept up?

    Here’s the deal: fake grass isn’t going to win us games. In fact, it will probably make our annual mismatch against (insert name here)’s faster players, oh, 3% more embarrassing. On the contrary, it seems to me that having natural grass will actually give us a home field ADVANTAGE because: 1) not very many teams have it or are used to it anymore and 2) when a really speedy team comes to town you can “forget” to mow it.

    So, BK… instead of pissing off 70% of your fan base (none of my fellow alums that I’ve spoken to are happy about this) and eliminating ANOTHER crucial tradition, I’ve got an idea…just leave it alone. It’s bad enough that you tards eliminated the manger tradition, decided to outfit our team in sparkly my little pony Christmas ornament helmets (as my socal friends gleefully pointed out), and (from reports) eliminated the walk from Mass. Enough is enough.

    –a very pissed off ’08 grad

    PS: the music in the Stadium was embarrassing, but I’ll allow it. Just stop playing the same stupidass songs over and over. And a jumbotron COULD be a good idea for a louder atmosphere. (Then again, I never had a problem with being loud…I would LITERALLY scream so loud each game that I normally couldn’t speak for the rest of Saturday night… but I suppose some people need a crutch)…. But knowing BK, he’ll want to cover up the rest of Touchdown Jesus. Just another worthless tradition anyways, right?

    NEXT UP: ELIMINATE THE BAND!! A relic of a bygone past!!! Replace them all with CDs!! *voice trails off*…its not 1965 anymore…. modernize…

    • mbutch6 - Oct 28, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      My goodness. Most coach are pragmatic by nature. Things are broke to compete in this day and age where most other BCS schools are giving cars to their QB’s (see OSU) or the lineman to strip clubs (See the U). Change is necessary. Trust me, field turf will not erase the Four Horseman from the histroy books.

      • jimbasil - Oct 28, 2011 at 10:54 AM

        Comment, not Dissertation

      • waydomer - Oct 28, 2011 at 3:46 PM

        Nor will it win any football games. I believe we are 0-1 this year on turf.

    • dcirish - Oct 28, 2011 at 10:35 AM

      Class of ’08 — is that 1908? I’m a 1969 and I was embarrassed to look at the field before the start of the USF game — and I commented on it to my wife as we sat in the heat. It looked like week 15 in a cold weather NFL Stadium also used for college and high school games; brown was the dominant color, before a single down was played this season. That can’t be good to play on, and it does matter if you play on a surface totally different from what you practice on — and you have to think about recruits too. The Lambeau solution may be good.

      I was anti-Jumbotron until Yankee Stadium and Army last year — that turned me 100% in favor. It was remarkable and there was no advertising or chessy cheering stuff — just promoting ND and the chance for replays.

      And finally remember that Rockne was an innovator. He’s spinning in his grave at the refusal to adapt to what’s happening. Remember that he was a leader, not a follower, a forward thinker, not a recluse. He invented endorsements. Let’s get into the 21st century!!

      • waydomer - Oct 28, 2011 at 12:06 PM

        Well I was in that stadium and it was about 95 degrees as it was, it would have been about 115 degrees with plastic grass. That is why Florida teams and most deep south teams keep grass. Here is a short excerpt from article about the heat problem:

        Synthetic turf fields absorb heat, resulting in surface temperatures that are much higher than the temperatures of the surrounding air. In June 2002 at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah, the average surface temperature on a synthetic turf field was reported to be 117°F while the average surface temperatures on natural turf and asphalt were 78°F and 110°F, respectively. A maximum surface temperature of 200°F on the BYU synthetic turf field was reported. A turfgrass specialist at the University of Missouri reported measuring an air temperature of 138°F at “head-level” height on the university’s synthetic turf field on a sunny 98°F day. The surface temperature of the field was reported to be 178°F. A study conducted at Penn State University measured surface temperatures on experimental plots of nine different types of infilled turf. Temperature measurements were made on three occasions. The average air temperatures reported were 79°, 78°, and 85°F. The corresponding average surface temperatures reported for the synthetic turf plots are 120°, 130° and 146°F.

      • notredamegrad - Oct 28, 2011 at 1:46 PM

        The field has looked much better since the USF game. The field looked great until the week prior to USF (I saw it myself), then turned brown and awful because we had an unusual week of temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s. Then came the rain. Not a good mix for any field.

    • joeblk10 - Oct 28, 2011 at 11:02 AM

      Its not just a speed and agility thing. The main reason for the switch is having a consistent field that cuts down on injuries. The bad grass ND stadium has is an injury waiting to happen and i’m all for cutting those down on for both teams. Use your brain.

      • notredamegrad - Oct 28, 2011 at 1:49 PM

        I read that injuries (knee, ankle) are more prevalent when teams play on turf than on grass – that there is an increased likelihood of sustaining them on turf, not the other way around. Is this not the case?

      • waydomer - Oct 28, 2011 at 3:13 PM

        This is to notredame grad. Injuries get discussed all the time and now a lot of people, especially the turf field manufacturers try to claim that the artificla stuff is safer. Well according to the State of new York, where I pulled the information about temperature, there is no real difference:

        “the studies concluded that there were no major differences in overall injury rates between natural and infilled synthetic turf. Although each study found some differences in specific injury types, there was no consistent pattern across the studies.”

    • ihatemistate - Oct 28, 2011 at 6:05 PM

      I agree with you on a few things, the helmuts are embarrassing, NOONE wants to hear Ozzie anymore, and PLEASE GET A JUMBOTRON. If I’m going to pay $70.00 or more to set on a back breaking bench crammed in I would at least expect to see the replay like EVERY OTHER STADIUM HAS. Screw the boosters on this one.

  2. fredshaheen - Oct 28, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    Oddly enough the great coaches of the past proved that they could win and win often with what they were given. My concern is not with change but with my perception of Brian Kelly who I believe is certain that by changing the game day experience will translate in to points on the scoreboard. The last time I checked the team will only be awarded with six points for a touchdown without extra credit for video boards, loud music and changes in simple yet rewarding traditions.

    • nudeman - Oct 28, 2011 at 12:03 PM

      If I had my way, nothing would change; no jumbotron and absolutely no field turf. But they haven’t called for my input.
      Kelly is trying to create a home field advantage. Field turf suits his offense; and the jumbotron is – face it – a modern day acoutrement. It’s coming.

      • waydomer - Oct 28, 2011 at 3:17 PM

        So do we go back to grass when the next coach thinks it suits his offense better. No such costly and permanent changes should be made because of a particular coach’s preference

  3. 9irish - Oct 28, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Good grief….I know this is just “us” talking, but….they can play on concrete with leather helmets for all I care…teach them how to beat people up and hang on to the damn football.

  4. newyorknd - Oct 28, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    Kelly did seem to call out the Weis era recuits on the team as being unable or unwilling to ‘play the right way’ . I mentioned on a different thread that this may be the case. These are players who have never known winning at ND. That doesn’t make them bad people, but it doesn’t make them good football players, either. I think BK is right for calling them out, especially if they are upperclassmen. Yes, it’s Kelly’s responsibility to get them to play at the peak of their potential, but maybe it’s time to consider that they have a limited ceiling. I think Kelly needs at least 3 recruiting cycles to see what he’s really able to do. No one wanted winning at ND to take this long, but, I hate to say it, we are going to have to be patient.

    • waydomer - Oct 28, 2011 at 12:10 PM

      Call them out in the confines of the team, not the media. And you know Kelly, never second guesses himself, like using 3 different QB’s in one series, especially when one hadn’t played in about 6 weeks and most snaps he would be getting would be in shot gun – not under center.

      • gatordomer - Oct 29, 2011 at 1:25 PM

        We don’t know whether Kelly purposely called out his, or should I say Charlie’s, players publicly in a desperate attempt to shock them out of their comfortable indifference, or whether he is really feeling the pressure of being in over his head. He seems to constantly want to have things both ways. Didn’t he get the ND job by winning with Mark D’Anantonio’s players at Cincinnati? I think he needs to do a lot less talking (in public) and a lot more coaching.

        Nonetheless, if “his players” are better, bench “Charlie’s players” and play the young (Kelly’s) guys. I for one would rather lose with Golson, Atkinson, Ishaq, et. al., (Kelly’s RKGs) who will gain experience and will (in theory) improve, than continue to watch (Charlie’s) slow, uninspired, tackle-missing, fumbling, confused, penalized, players, sink to the occaision.

        My hope is that Kelly has finally realized it’s going to take extreme measures to awaken the Irish program from the chronic mediocrity that ND football has become.

    • nudeman - Oct 28, 2011 at 12:11 PM

      I saw an article in the Chi Trib today where he drew a line in the sand between “my guys” and the ones he inherited.

      Any idea who specifically he’s calling out? It’s not obvious to me.

      Some of the prominent seniors are having very good years.
      Jonas Gray and Michael Floyd are the best examples.
      Manti is a Weis guy, but having a great year.
      Harrison Smith isn’t my favorite guy, but he’s a Captain so he must possess some decent leadership skills.
      Kelly clearly doesn’t care much for Dayne, so that’s an obvious possibility.

      Not sure who else though isn’t his kinda’ guy.

      • newyorknd - Oct 28, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        I’m not too sure either. Is this comment meant to be a shot across the bow of any specific player or does it speak to the overall lack of consistent focus that rears its ugly head at inopportune times? I love Ciere Woods, but not going for the ball immediately after it falls incomplete and is recovered by SC is an example of a failure to do ALL the little things right. I’m not trying to single out Ciere, but I think this is just one example of many this season that illustrates a team with a lot of talent that is unable to consistently to realize that talent.

      • nudeman - Oct 28, 2011 at 1:12 PM

        Not sure if he’s calling out anyone in particular or just venting frustration.
        To Kelly, this season probably seems like it’s about 30 games long already, and he’s looking at it and thinking “when the hell am I going to have a team full of MY guys who play MY kind of football?”

        Remember, he’s only got about a class and a half of his recruits.

  5. glowplugv - Oct 28, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    I had seats 5 rows up from the flag pole for the USC game. When the action was at our end of the field it was great but as it moved away it was very hard to gauge distance and see the play develop. I don’t see what tradition has to do with either the field type or a jumbotrop properly used (replay and ND promotion). It should be about providing the best playing conditions for the players and enjoyment of the crowd. Having been at the LA Coliseum under similar circumstances, the replay on the jumbotron there was great (yeah, but DON’T allow all the commercial ads you had to see there too). You want to get people riled up, have them watch a replay on a close call. That would be better than what was blasted out at the crowd at the USC game.

  6. mbutch6 - Oct 28, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    Has stadium construction every other year at Michigan dimished their storied tradition?

    • mbutch6 - Oct 28, 2011 at 11:52 AM

      *diminished

    • 9irish - Oct 28, 2011 at 7:35 PM

      Nope. Lived there for 3 years….the stadium is a constant work in progress. Huge, too. I remember bitching when they expanded Notre Dame stadium, kind of seems like a good idea now.

      • 9irish - Oct 28, 2011 at 7:55 PM

        Just to furthur that point (your point), U of M went from the old concrete astro turf, to regular turf…that didn’t work (very low, sunk in stadium…do the math), so they went to the new stuff somewhere in between. Nobody batted an eye. I like the grass turf, but if it’s not working then change it. Other things to worry about, it is not a cross to bear for me.

  7. don74 - Oct 28, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    Watch Kelly’s post practice reports for wed and thursday this week on UND.com to hear what he say and how he said it about field turf, jumbotron and getting the guys to play the way he wants. He was very reasonable with his comments….some of the stories dont capture the moment.

    As long as the field turf doesnt match the helments…then again maybe we can blind our opponents like Boise blends in with their turf….(credit to Jdubs88). Jumbotron, fine. All games in the student section are fun…..not so much anywhere else. Other than the outcome Saturday’s game atmosphere was great. Since we dont get a vote but we all want to be on record…Jtron ok; field turf, don’t care as long as it’s green; music, loud, fun, with enough pauses for the band to play; student section, loader than the music; team, show up and play up to their talent leve, win at homel; refreshments; more salt in the kettle corn…………..47-10 Irish/Beat Navy

  8. notredamegrad - Oct 28, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    I thought that field turf would be a good idea (to match the team’s playing surface to their practice surface) until I spent a few hours on the field turf at the ND lacrosse stadium last weekend.

    The turf looked like a green plastic shag carpet. It was shiny, the seams were visible, the “painted” lines looked awful, and I had little bits of ground up tire pieces (which lie under the synthetic “grass” and create the give in the surface) stuck all over my clothes where they had touched the turf. Is the field turf under consideration for the football field the same stuff? If so, I don’t get why anyone would want it.

    I love the description of Lambeau field’s installation – that would be an excellent middle-of-the-road approach that could avoid the faults of field turf.

    • gracehall1980 - Oct 28, 2011 at 7:32 PM

      My family’s experience is all high level club and high school soccer. In that realm it is a god send. It is lower maintenance, consistent and uniform in performance and “quick.” With that said I think the ND should explore the Lambeau solution. Does anyone have any idea how the cost of that surface compares with “ordinary” Field Turf?

  9. 808raiderinparadise - Oct 28, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    “Backed into a corner, Brian Kelly‘s first Irish football team overcame a ton of adversity before finishing last season in style. Facing Todd Graham’s Tulsa squad just days after the death of Declan Sullivan, the Irish lost their starting quarterback in the opening minutes of the game before losing in the final seconds.”

    awwwwww boooooooooooooo hooooooooooooo !!!!!!!!!! Tragic, but this is such an excuse bleeding bias all over the place. Tulsa. You win that game. Uconn. you win that game. Syaracuse. you win that game. USF. you win that game. Nvay. you win THOSE games. ND is soft, plain and simple, they don’t have a voilent edge that most teams have. The athletes are all rated super-high when they commit and rarely are they what they look like at other schools. The kids need swagger. Play some hip-hop/rap at the games, let them be in their own tradition rather than that of 25-100 years ago … they are trapped in the past, strangled to conform to a tight tailored life-style that prohibits any sense of wild drive that other schools create.

    Maybe I’m a little wrong here, but you have to admit, the football program is more the school, rather than the football program being a football program.

    You can still be honoring the past, tradition, academia ……. just allow for the football program to be its own identity for the kids, school, fans.

    • irishangst88 - Oct 28, 2011 at 9:28 PM

      I agree 100%. All I will add is that I wish Jack Swarbrick spent as much time building the ND football team as he does building the ND “brand”.

  10. irishinmichigan - Oct 28, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    What happened to the fast paced BK offense Kelly had in Cincy? Our priorities are all out of whack. We should be worried about winning, playing great offense, strong defense and getting to a BCS game. Who cares about AstroTurf? The long natural grass was something many schools struggled with when they came to SB. Now you wanna throw it out? Who cares about getting the gold color “just right” in the helmets? Does that win games? Are we losing our focus here? Get the best recruits you can, put together a solid game plan and make it happen. Get the fight back in the Fighting Irish!!!

  11. ihatemistate - Oct 28, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    I went to the Air Force game, sat on their side, looked for TD Jesus and could see him nowhere. Is he completely covered up now? Another thing, I’m betting before the end of this year T Rees will send Brian Kelly to the turf one of these times Kelly is screaming at him with the bulging eyes and spitting everywhere, and I can’t wait. That guy needs to get a knuckle sandwich when he demoralizes a QB like that. I’m in Michigan and he was the same kind of jerk at Grand Valley State and wasn’t liked much there at all for it.

    • somebadhatharry - Oct 28, 2011 at 9:15 PM

      You speak as though these players have never been yelled at before. This is competitive division 1 college football. If these young adults can’t handle being yelled at, they should probably play intramural water polo or something along those lines. I don’t know if its the media or what, but its not like BK is the only coach who yells at his players on the sidelines. I played college football, and from the way these guys have been playing, I have yet to see Kelly yell at a player when it wasn’t justified.

      • 9irish - Oct 29, 2011 at 1:20 AM

        I think that people have become used to “Dr Lou” on Espn too much….everyone’s wise, crazy uncle. He was a complete taskmaster….yelling screaming, grabbing face masks. Also ran training that was so physically demanding that players were barfing everywhere. I am always puzzled at how people think Kelly is such a mean guy…just trying to do his damn job.

      • nudeman - Oct 29, 2011 at 3:25 PM

        Completely agree
        ND is “big boy football”; at least I thought it was

        Juniors and Seniors who don’t like getting chewed should play better
        Bob Davie, Ty and Weis ain’t comin’ through that door anytime soon,

  12. fredshaheen - Oct 28, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    I’ve attached a link to a good article. Enjoy!

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/28/opinion/dont-dismiss-the-fighting-irish/

  13. norcalirish - Oct 29, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    @ dcirish: yeah man, 1908. I’m writing you from the grave. And if you think the natural grass looks bad, good lord—you might want to up your prescription. Did you see byu/tcu tonight from cowboys stadium? The best fake surface money could buy looked AWFUL…and it played like it too. So many people were slipping the announcers even commented that their crew had an issue with the turf before the game. I guess the “21st century” still has traction issues.

    @ joeblk10: lmfao, use my brain? Are you high? Yeah man, I’ll try to remember those sage words of yours as I polish my ND class ring. And, if you read my post you’ll notice that I actually mentioned injuries…but it’s funny that you bring that issue up. You say that fake grass REDUCES injuries? Because, as it so happens, the American Journal of Sports Medicine did a 5 year study on the subject, and I guess they disagree with you. Shocking, I know. Another multiyear study put out about the NFL field turf (by an MD, no less) found that:

    “The injury rates on FieldTurf were dramatically higher than the authors found for games played on natural grass. The injury rate overall per team-game was 27% higher on FieldTurf, the ACL injury rate was an amazing 88% higher, and the lateral ankle sprain rate was 48% higher. All of those differences were statistically significant”.

    Apparently some of these fake grass fields can even potentially give you cancer. Fields have even been closed as a precaution.

    The more and more I look into this the more ridiculous it gets. To be sure, there are arguments on both sides—and the issue of which surface is “safer” is far from over—but the debate about replacing the natural grass at ND SHOULD be over. Not only would you be getting rid of another important tradition, but you’d also (apparently) be increasing your injury risk, pissing off tons of alums and making your field look like a shiny retarded green carpet.

    PS: I just randomly found this while looking for something else. From the University of Arkansas: “Although actual data are not available, anecdotal data are available from NFL players. Players were asked in a 2006 survey “Which surface do you think causes more soreness and fatigue to play on?”. Five-percent felt like natural grass systems increased fatigue, while 74% felt that artificial turf systems were more responsible for fatigue (5). Twenty-one percent felt they were the same. In the open comments section of the survey, the most common comment was “MAKE ALL FIELDS GRASS TO PREVENT INJURIES.” (emphasis mine)

    But I guess those NFL players don’t know what they’re talking about, hmm?

    • joeblk10 - Oct 29, 2011 at 2:05 PM

      Wow. Great statistics. You should do a powerpoint. However, not one thing you typed has a darn thing to do with Notre Dames grass. Not one. It has been known by pretty much anyone who pays attention that there have been numerous issues with that grass, especially recently. From holes to soft patches causing twists and slips that normally wouldn’t happen. The condition of that field for South Florida was almost embarassing. I know, i was there. If you really are “polishing your ring” as you say then you should know that. Its turf, its not the end of the world. This team has bigger problems than grass or no grass anyway right now.

  14. oldndgrad - Oct 29, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    KELLY JUST GOT SEVERELY CRITICIZED ON ESPN GAME DAY. HE CONTINUES TO EMBARRASS BOTH HIMSELF, THE UNIVERSITY, AND NOW THE PLAYERS. I’M TOTALLY DISAPPOINTED IN HIS DEMEANOR. THIS IS GOING TO HURT OUR RECRUITING. I PLAYED BALL AT ND AND I’M SAD TO SAY I WOULD NEVER PLAY FOR THIS GUY.

    • nudeman - Oct 29, 2011 at 1:26 PM

      The truth is you’re judging him based on about 10% of the total information. You’ve never been to a Kelly practice, and have never been in a meeting with Kelly and his players. I’m not an apologist and think he overstepped this week in some of his comments. But I still believe in the guy. Building a program from ashes (and let’s be honest: Weis left a smoking abyss) isn’t always pretty.

      Let me ask you this: How did you like Lou’s sideline demeanor? He was, if anything, worse.

      ND is big boy football.
      If the juniors and seniors don’t like getting their asses chewed by Kelly, how about THIS: Play Better.

    • txbeej - Oct 29, 2011 at 1:52 PM

      Got to agree, some of his comments were divisive and frankly bizarre. I hope he hasn’t destroyed what’s left of the team’s morale.

  15. don74 - Oct 29, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    Can we all take a deep breath, exhale and get over ourselves. Let’s suppose we were in a nice friendly pub and a discussion starts about college football. Without naming a program one of the guys starts talking about their team, for the sake of discussion it’s easterly, southerly, westerly state. They started a program 20 years ago and have been about 500 at home and on the road. In the last 4 years they lost 3 of 4 to one of the stronger programs in the country and 3 of 4 to a service academy. They have lost at home to a program that has been D1 for about 10 years and lost to schools once good at football, now good at basketball. And while they have won some games, exciting games, they haven’t beat a top 10 school in, well, no one can remember. This guy insists his team is one player away and if the coach only did….(you fill in the blank).

    I know I would buy him a drink and change the conversation but guess what, that’s us. We are so far away from being a top 10 team. Reading all the posts it seems like we are all forgetting this is entertainment. Do we all want the team we invest some emotion in to do well. Yes we do. Guess what? kelly says it all the time, you get what you deserve. We are a mid tier program, once great, with a fan base that sees legends running out of the tunnel every saturday. We dont yet have them and they havent been around for a long time. Our all american linebacker is highly ordinary in pass coverage but because he is our all american he is not to be criticized.

    This thing needs to be rebuilt. Is BK the guy to do it? I dont know but he certainly has a vision, he has the energy, he is touching all bases at the school. I was in the stands last week and the team of my warped fan’s vision did not show up. The team that showed up is the team we have had for the last 15 years reincarnated under a different coach. When Kelly called his guys out it was a wake up call to me….get real and see it as it is. He will either do the job or he won’t. If he wants to stick it out I will watch what happens and hope for the best.

    Time to raise the ND flag. 47-10 Irish. Beat Navy.

    Sorry for the spelling and grammer.

    • nudeman - Oct 29, 2011 at 1:21 PM

      Great post Don.
      You are on the side of reality. They HAVE been basically a mid tier program.

      Sounds like there was a near insurrection in South Bend this week (see link below)

      I have no problem with Kelly blowing a fuse and calling these guys out. Not great style points, and he’s been overly hard on Crist. But hey: Don’t like it, juniors and seniors? Play better.

      And these people bitching about his sideline demeanor need to go watch some clips of Lou.

      http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/college/ct-spt-1029-notre-dame-football–20111029,0,324180.story

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