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Five things we learned: Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 3

Sep 16, 2012, 2:09 AM EDT

Notre Dame v Michigan State Getty Images

Statistics don’t always tell the story of a football game. A quick glance at the box score of the Irish’s 20-3 dismantling of No. 10 Michigan State doesn’t do Brian Kelly and his football team justice.

The Irish were just 1 of 14 on third downs. Everett Golson completed less than half his throws, going 14 of 32 for only 178 yards. The Notre Dame running game struggled again, with the Spartans holding the Irish to a modest 3.6 yards a carry and 122 yards. All-American tight end Tyler Eifert was held without a catch. And in a game where the Irish needed to keep their wits, the offense didn’t make it one play without taking a penalty and burning a timeout, all in the first seven seconds of the game.

Paragraphs like that usually explain why Notre Dame finds itself on the wrong side of another primetime match-up with a top ten team, extending a run of futility that dates back to the Reagan administration. But on Saturday evening with the college football world watching, Brian Kelly’s defense took matters into their own hands, making a resounding statement and dominating Mark Dantonio‘s team for all four quarters.

The Spartans’ vaunted running attack? Held to 50 yards. The vulnerable Irish secondary? Junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell threw 45 times for just 187 yards — a meager 4.2 yards an attempt. With a chance to show itself as the class of the Big Ten, Michigan State managed only 237 yards of total offense, dominated at the line of scrimmage and putting up its only points thanks to a 50-yard field goal.

With Manti Te’o willing his teammates to victory and Prince Shembo practically unblockable off the edge, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco put together an aggressive attack that the Spartans could never overcome. Neutralizing running back Le’Veon Bell, dominating the line of scrimmage, and swarming to the football with a relentless drive, the Irish defense put together their most dominant performance of the Kelly era and likely propelled the Irish into the country’s top 15 teams as Notre Dame heads home for a showdown against Michigan next Saturday.

“Our defense continues to be the group that we had committed to building when we started this process,” Kelly said. “They’re starting to get to that level that can play against anybody.”

On Saturday night, that might have been an understatement. Let’s find out what else we learned in the Irish’s dominating 20-3 victory over Michigan State.

***

The stats may not show it, but Everett Golson is coming into his own.

The numbers may not be that impressive, but Everett Golson continues to reward Kelly for making him the team’s starting quarterback. Walking into hostile territory, Golson kept his wits about him as he managed the game, took care of the football, and also showed some of the dazzling skills that make him such an exciting player.

Golson was hardly perfect. He missed two deep balls that likely would’ve gone for big plays and showed a need to improve his touch on some short throws. But the sophomore refused to get flustered when the Spartans front seven pressured him, and made the play of the game when he launched a beautiful deep ball to senior John Goodman for a 36-yard touchdown.

With the bright lights on, Golson continues to look like the Irish’s quarterback of the present and future.

“He needed to be in this kind of atmosphere,” Kelly said. “He needed to be on the road, in this kind of great collegiate atmosphere and a very difficult football team you’re playing. He needed these kind of experiences.”

That the Irish can get victories while also getting valuable experience is a luxury not many teams can afford.

“We’re not even close where we could be, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said. “We’re going through some of the growing pains.”

Those pains are getting easier and easier to take as Golson continues to get better, making a ton of big plays with his arm while also absorbing as much as he can. A week after getting pulled with the game on the line in favor of Tommy Rees, Golson watched comfortably from the sideline as Rees handled some garbage time snaps as the Irish bled the clock late in the fourth quarter.

“He gets it,” Kelly said of Golson’s role. “He’s going to continue to get better.”

***

Manti Te’o is what’s good about college football.

With his work done for the evening and the Notre Dame sidelines basking in victory, the Irish’s senior linebacker went down to a knee, closed his eyes, and said a prayer. It’s been a life-changing week for Te’o, who lost his girlfriend to a long battle with leukemia and his grandmother in a 48-hour span. That two of Te’o’s teammates put a hand on each of his shoulders was fitting, as he carried the memory of two loved ones on his own shoulders as he willed the Irish defense to victory.

“He’s so strong for everybody, so when he was in this time, everybody wanted to help him out,” Kelly said. “I’ve never seen that type of dynamic.”

Te’o was super on Saturday evening, recording his 20th career double-digit tackle game as he racked up a game-high twelve stops, including one behind the line of scrimmage. Tasked with covering 6-foot-5, 285-pound Dion Sims in the middle of the field, Te’o showed his improved play in pass coverage, breaking up two passes and tackling receivers for modest gains after Maxwell was continually forced to check down and make short throws.

The Irish’s undeniable leader on the field did everything asked of him, using his teammates as his support system as he battled through heartbreak.

“During this tough time all he wanted to do was be at practice with his teammates,” Kelly said. “All those kids in their were pulling for Manti. Given all the distractions and tragedy he’s had to deal with, he went and played really good football.”

For as well as Te’o acquitted himself on the field, he was perhaps more impressive in a short postgame interview with ABC and with the media after the game. Deferring to the help of his teammates, and thanking both Notre Dame and Michigan State fans for their support this week, Te’o was humble in victory as he honored two of the most important people in his life.

Still, it’s clear that Te’o is suffering. When asked if this weekend could have ended any better, Te’o was brutally honest.

“Yeah. I could call my girlfriend right now and talk about the game,” Te’o said. “But I’ve just got to get on my knees, say a prayer, and then I can talk to her that way.”

***

Through three games, the Irish defense is on a pretty historic pace.

It’s hard to pick a stat that properly qualifies how dominant the Irish defense has been these first three games, but the 30 points the Irish have surrendered in the first quarter of the season is the least since 1988, when the eventual national champions gave up 27 points over the season’s first three games.

Tonight the Irish not only ended an ugly streak against top ten teams, but they did it with style, racking up four sacks, six tackles for loss, and holding Michigan State to the fewest points they’ve scored in Spartan Stadium since 1991. Running back Le’Veon Bell only managed 77 yards, with his longest carry going for 15 yards when the Spartans were content running the clock out to end the half.

Outside linebacker Prince Shembo almost single-handedly supplied the Irish’s pass rush, with the junior linebacker wreaking havoc all night off the edge as he made nine tackles, two tackles-for-loss, and a sack, while continually pressing Maxwell and drawing a well deserved holding call. Stephon Tuitt added another sack, planting Maxwell for a huge 12 yard loss as almost an exclamation point for the defense.

The 237 yards the Irish allowed was the least amount the Irish have given up on the road since 2008 against Ty Willingham’s Washington Huskies. With the Irish’s young secondary not missing a beat after Jamoris Slaughter went down with a significant ankle injury, it was a near perfect performance for Bob Diaco’s unit.

“We got pressure when we needed to,” Kelly said. “We got them behind the chains. We got them throwing the football. I think that was the key defensively.”

***

With Tyler Eifert taken away by the Spartans’ defense, the Irish’s wide receivers made plenty of big plays.

The Spartans defense managed to find a way to shut down tight end Tyler Eifert. But the Irish wide receivers — a position many perceive to be the weakest group on the roster — did serious damage, making big plays down the field against a tough Michigan State secondary. TJ Jones, Robby Toma and Goodman all had catches of 20 yards or longer, and Kelly’s ability to stretch the field vertically in the passing game caught the Spartans on their heels.

Goodman’s touchdown catch in the first quarter — an amazing one-handed grab he completed while being interfered with — was a beauty, and the type of play many have been waiting four years to see out of the talented Fort Wayne native. In the first half, the Irish got the “big chunk” plays Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin so desperately wanted, with Golson averaging 18 yards a completion in the first half.

With Davaris Daniels limited because of an ankle injury and Golson missing two long shots down the field with freshman speedster Chris Brown pushing defenses vertically, the chance to do even more damage was there for the taking. And while the Irish couldn’t take advantage of it Saturday evening, they proved that Notre Dame’s wide receivers can make plays down the football field, something that’ll need to continue throughout the season.

“Our challenge was going to be to find a couple big chunk plays,” Kelly said. “We were able to get a couple, but we missed a few that we’re going to regret when we watch the film.”

***

Notre Dame imposed their will on Michigan State, wearing out the Spartans on their home turf.

Brian Kelly has repeatedly talked about his football players finally being able to get the rewards for the work they put in. On Saturday night, the fruits of their labor were on display, as the Irish dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage as the Irish were the football team that pushed their opponent into submission.

“It’s a signature win,” Kelly said. “There’s no question when you go on the road against the No. 10 team in the country and you beat them, it’s definitely going to build the confidence in that locker room.”

Signature wins have been a talking point around Notre Dame football for much of the past decade, and interestingly Kelly not only used the words, but also assigned the victory to the players in the locker room, not the guys in the headsets. With the Irish clinching the game with a crucial 12 play, 84-yard scoring drive that ate up almost seven minutes of the fourth quarter, Kelly’s players are winning games not only because of the work they’re doing preparing for opponents but because of the commitment they made in the offseason.

“I just felt like this group since January has totally committed themselves to wanting to win each and every week,” Kelly said. I don’t think it was all of a sudden just this week I saw it. It’s been coming. We’re so committed to the process. We’re right in the thick of the process of developing our football team.”

One-third of the way through the season, the Irish are unblemished for the first time in a decade. After having watching his team fizzle last season when expectations were high, a victory like this could be the key to building momentum as the Irish turn their attention to Michigan.

“You need one of those wins to break it open,” Kelly said.

107 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. mmcss690 - Sep 16, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Have to admit I was giddy with joy watching this team execute (literally and figuratively)!! Mich state didn’t allow an offensive touchdown in the first 2 games…so we decided to let them know how that feels….hmmm…..humility! Keep Denard in check and were 4-0, but let’s take the day to bask in the warmth of 3-0! We have the rest of the week to think about tying up those shoelaces!

  2. mtb1996 - Sep 16, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    “If he had gone to USC they would have hollowed out his soul and he’d be a punk. Te’o made the choice of a lifetime.”

    Words cannot describe how much I love this statement. I’m a 1996 ND grad and have lived in So Cal my whole life. I despise USC and can’t wait to dismantle them at home this Thanksgiving.

    • zorichmidriff - Sep 16, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      But Te’o didn’t go to USC b/c he knew what the program was about there and what type of player bought into that. So talking about him potentially being a “punk” or getting his “soul hollowed out” is just kinda lame.

      He chose ND for obvious reasons. Let’s leave speculation out of this.

  3. michigandomer1984 - Sep 16, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    This was posted on NDNation: “Glad to see the Irish finally get a big win, but Brian Kelly tried his best to lose this one. His play calling, particularly in the second half was pathetic. By going conservative and calling runs up the gut Kelly tried his best to give this one away. The D play was clearly outstanding, particularly Prince Shembo and Elijah Shumate. Cierre Wood played well but got far too few carries. Kelly was a tremendous play caller at Cincinnati. At N.D., he seems to have all but abandoned the no-huddle and five-wide sets that were his trademark in his undefeated season in the Queen. The reverse to Atkinson was a great call, but other than that, the imagination was sorely lacking in Kelly’s calls and his delays in getting the calls in continues to be a huge problem. It’s as if he had no idea the Spartan faithful were actually going to be allowed to cheer. Not sure what the logic was of putting Rees in in garbage time and it clearly flaked Golston as it should have.” I posted a comment about his ignorance and arrogance, and it is deleted. So apparently it is okay to trash a coach who can’t defend himself, but if the attitude of the poster (or posters) is challenged, that is not acceptable. The site is an embarrassment and as an ND fan and alum, this is the last site the represents ND appropriately. Keith, thank you for being the “Manti Teo” of the media – doing it well and the right way.

    • ndgiants11 - Sep 16, 2012 at 11:48 AM

      I’m with you on this one, michigandomer. The delay getting the plays in and lack of imagination may not necessarily be Kelly’s fault. Let’s not forget that Golson – not Golston as this guy said – is still a rookie QB and we know it takes time. He’s at the point where he needs to manage the game and eliminate mistakes, not run the full playbook. So this person really shouldn’t knock Kelly, when Kelly is really just doing what is best for his first year QB.

    • ndfaithful - Sep 16, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      Wow… I couldn’t disagree more with that post. To wake up and criticize BK for the job he did last night is crazy. The mishaps in the first 7 seconds cannot undermine the strategy, execution and play calling that got the lead and then protected it. There’s not much to complain about last night’s performance, but somebody always has to be the wet blanket around here. I guess it was your turn Domer….

    • dmac4real - Sep 16, 2012 at 5:13 PM

      NDNation is trash.

      Note even worth youre time visiting there.

      • roughingthecenter - Sep 16, 2012 at 6:24 PM

        They aren’t happy unless they are complaining. They have no right to even call themselves fans. They have convinced themselves that Coach Kelly is no good so nothing that the team can do on the field will satisfy them. I wish they would all go find another team. ND deserves classy, positive fans. Not a bunch of stubborn ndnation phonies. Go IRISH beat Michigan!

    • roughingthecenter - Sep 16, 2012 at 6:18 PM

      I wonder if my reply to him was deleted. I’m the one that ended my post with “Gnite A-hole”

    • c4evr - Sep 16, 2012 at 9:31 PM

      I have been known too throw BK under the bus from time to time and I think Michigandomer’s re-post is a fairly accurate depiction of the game Saturday night. But this time, I prefer to acknowledge Diaco who did more to win the game in his scheme than Kelly did with his offensive gameplan. If we don’t find a down hill running game soon, ND will get exposed somewhere along the line. Hopefully it won’t be in a BCS game a la Davie (lost 41- 9 to Oregon St.) and Weiss (lost 34-20 to Ohio St.).

      • ndfaithful - Sep 16, 2012 at 9:47 PM

        C4Sht,

        You should have watched the last scoring drive. It’s a shame you missed it. CW ran down hill, gashing and bashing the MSU defense on a nice angry run. The drive was an 11 play, 84 yard scoring drive that sealed the game. I don’t think they threw the ball once. It’s such a shame that you obviously missed it. Were you hangin out with MIDomer discussing the down side of BK at the time.

        Dang… dude – it was so fun to watch the downhill running game work when they needed it.

        Oh – I almost forgot. You should have seen BK in the first half too. He rolled out a balanced attack and went deep with the play calls several times. EG even made an awesome play to hit Goodman for a big score. What’s really cool is that the offense gave Diaco’s defense an early lead to work with. Then they just played smart, solid, and strong for the big win.

        I recorded it and could get you a copy if you want to catch it sometime.

      • c4evr - Sep 16, 2012 at 10:17 PM

        Chill, faithful… why all the vitriol? Can you enjoy a win without blowing a gasket when you read an opinion that doesn’t coincide with yours. I am glad you recorded a great running performance at the end of a game that was decided midway through the 4th quarter. Why so defensive about your coach – he’s a big boy and he can prove me wrong over the course of the season. So put your big boy pants on and don’t be fooled into thinking that it makes your argument any more cogent or valid just by denigrating mine.

      • ndfaithful - Sep 16, 2012 at 10:54 PM

        C4,

        Perfectly chilled. No vitriol. And I’m happily resting in my big-boy pants. I’m just using sarcasm to voice my opinion too. Your wet-blanket opinion is just easy to mock when you withold any credit when it’s due. As you pointed out, you are happy to throw BK under the bus and on a night of a big win, you’ve got to get your dig in.

        By the way you described it, I figured you missed the game. Seems if BK does well and takes them all the way to a BCS championship, you’d be upset with the angle he held the clipboard during the final victory formation.

        I mean really? Was Diaco on board before BK got there? Who’s idea was that anyway? You think Diaco caught up with BK after the game and explained how he managed to win it or something? The game I watched showed a total team effort orchestrated by a head coach that had the whole program ready to win. Yet you make it sound like we won in spite of Kelly. Whatever.

        It’s hard to see a lot of negatives in Saturday’s games other than Slaughter’s injury. Still – you came up with one. Atta-boy dude. We can always count on you to denigrate the coach’s efforts and share some pessimism.

        Thanks for that.

      • dmac4real - Sep 16, 2012 at 11:09 PM

        ndfaithful:

        you deserve this. http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mad5izzVW61qdf9tn.gif

        Well done, bravo.

      • c4evr - Sep 17, 2012 at 12:53 AM

        Faithful, you are living proof of the classic George Perles quote from 1989 that went something like this: “When you lose, everything you do is wrong. When you win, you can stick your finger up your ass and walk backwards and people say, ‘That’s the way it should be done.” You choose to forget all the bonehead things BK has done in his 3 years, that’s your prerogative. But you’ll remember these words when his team is exposed, not by an over rated Big 10 pretender, but by a worthy opponent. In the meantime, you and your cheerleader emac can get a room together high five each other all you want. Just because the team is not putting the ball on the ground and the defense is playing lights out right now does not mean Kelly is figuring it out. Last year, people were defending him in the Michigan game by saying he can’t play defense for his players… Now all of a sudden he’s the one scrambling extending plays and deserves the credit. You’re damn right they won in spite oh Kelly. The smartest thing he’s done is to surround himself with people like Diaco. For an offensive genius, he’s leaving a lot to be desired.

      • c4evr - Sep 17, 2012 at 1:03 AM

        Also, you want to see class, read what Barkley had to say after losing to Stanford. He had every right to complain and blame it on the replacement center. All he said was that Stanford was the better team that game. Compare that to Kelly, oh , after the MSU Little Giants game , ‘ we had a guy in position, he just fell down’, or after the Michigan meltdown last year, ‘ I can’t play defense for them.’, or after USC last year when he stated ‘ I have been doing this for 20 years and I know what I’m doing’. He’s indefensible… Especially when a 20 year old kid displays greater class and personal accountability than Kelly.

      • ndfaithful - Sep 17, 2012 at 6:13 AM

        OK, whatever. You can’t hold a thought long enough to discuss it anyway. You sound like an angry little man.

        Misquoting me or misrepresenting me wont bother me. Underneath your petty comments and little tirades, you’ve gone on to say that you agree with the following:

        “Brian Kelly tried his best to lose this one”
        “You’re damn right they won in spite oh Kelly.”

        That’s just nonsense.

        You can have you own opinion, however bitter and unintelligent it may be. I’ll quit poking fun at you with sarcasm because you obviously can’t handle it or defend your position with any logic or reason. Tadk’s right that the conversation has become petty and boring and that wasn’t what I intended. I just mistook you for somebody that was an Irish fan and had a clue, or might be able to justify what sounded like an idiotic statement at the first and second read.

        Sorry, It won’t happen again.

      • c4evr - Sep 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM

        OK, I think I see the problem. You accuse me of misquoting and misrepresenting you and yet I never once quoted or represented anything you posted. AND you say my argument is void of logic and reason, and yet I QUOTE Kelly’s own words and point out how they are childish and reprehensible. My only conclusion is that you secretly fear what I say is true… or you have a mental defect of some sort. Or a third option is you are an 11 year old who starts his rebuttal with “OK, whatever.” Gee, I hope I didn’t misrepresent you.

        And as far as being a fan, I’ve interviewed former players and coaches – including Ara, Golic, and Gladieaux – so don’t think your paltry insults rattles my knowledge of football and ND tradition.

    • tadk1969 - Sep 17, 2012 at 2:21 AM

      I don’t understand why ND fans can’t agree and just enjoy a 3-0 start!!! *&%#, get over your own petty opinions and sit back and enjoy an excellent start to the season. Good God!! are we going to be this critical if we win a National Championship!! lol

  4. agoodmedium - Sep 16, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    We are #11 in AP poll!!!!! AWESOME!!!

  5. cmhirish - Sep 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Keith, I usually enjoy your articles, but if you’re going to author a blog titled “Inside the Irish”, you ought to make more effort to be historically accurate about your subject. I – as I expect most persons associated with the ’93 squad would – take issue with the rhetoric that the football program is experiencing “a run of futility that dates back to the Reagan administration.”

    The ’93 squad finished 11-1 and was arguably robbed of the National title by media bias. That Irish team won at #2 Michigan, against #1 Florida State and #6 Texas A&M, and did not face a DII team nor a team that would today be classified a non-BCS school. Hardly a season of futility by any definition. By the way, Clinton was in office at the time.

    No, the Irish have not put elite teams on the field recently. Exactly when and how they last did is not that hard to determine; and even the casual observer would have hardly have used “a run of futility” to describe what the program was at the time. Call a spade a spade if you must; just don’t point to a sledgehammer and call it a spade.

    • nudeman - Sep 16, 2012 at 3:06 PM

      cmh
      Keith will not like this message
      You are now on the “Problem Poster List” (PPL) now with me
      Welcome aboard

      Just you, me and dickasman at this point.
      Ideally we will get a 4th for spades, golf, bridge or just drinking

    • Keith Arnold - Sep 16, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      CMH — That stat was supplied by Notre Dame. In nighttime, primetime games against top ten teams, the Irish hadn’t won one since 1983.

  6. bigjdeezy - Sep 16, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Slaughter is out for the season!! Very sad anyone know the rules on medical red shirts and how many games you have to play in before you can’t apply? I believe it’s 3 3/4 games not positive
    The best I have seen ND play since the 93 season out D is not to be messed with also my prayers go out to Te’o and his family I hope they win every game this season for the 2 people he lost

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 16, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      I think the medical redshirt is case by case

    • zorichmidriff - Sep 16, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      Oh God No

    • nudeman - Sep 16, 2012 at 3:08 PM

      I feel bad for this fellow
      Has a wife and child and no doubt was thinking about the NFL as maybe a mid-late round guy
      Now, all up in the air

      Life

      • fentocamarillo - Sep 16, 2012 at 8:27 PM

        Feel bad for somebody? Now that’s a twist we haven’t seen before. New, caring Nudepuke, I think not. Venom spews forth from you like Athena and Zeus’s head. Of course, this isn’t TR, is it, so you decided to lighten up on your favorite punching bag? By the way, nothing new to any of us that you like to lick butt, just doesn’t have to be Kristy Brinkley….more like David Brinkley. BTW. TR as closer=2-0. Get the extinguisher, Nudegay is about to spontaneously combust.

      • onebigloadofcrap - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:42 PM

        fento, been following your posts, you seem like an angry little puke who rarely has anything clever to offer, why not find a new hobby, nude is on target and informative way more often than not

      • onebigloadofcrap - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:44 PM

        and by the way fent-ass in order to be a closer one must actually close, golson took the final snaps after tommy came in and executed a couple nice handoffs

  7. kiopta1 - Sep 16, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Is slaughter gone?

  8. ihatemistate - Sep 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    This game was a special one. Lost my Uncle Jack, a huge ND fan, to ALS Friday evening, so hats off to winning in East Lansing against such a hostile crowd. (and believe me, they are). Hopefully he was watching from up above. If you have ND clothing on, two to one you’re going to get hit with flying debris before the game is over in East Lansing. I wouldn’t go to MSU for a game if the tickets were free. So proud of Manti, what a game he played. I live in Michigan so I get special joy beating MSU. If we can play like that next week we should be able to shut Denard down.

  9. Patrick Hannegan - Sep 16, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    A team. That is what Notre Dame proved to be last night. The way the defense played was inspiring. Even though Prince and Manti had outstanding games, I could not pick out one player to say was above the rest. Tuitt put the hurt on Maxwell causing the fumble, Teo was all over the feild, Shembo put pressure on the QB, and the secondary was exceptional. After the game, that was awesome. It was nice to see all of the Mich St. fans clear out but the team go to the crazy ND fans chanting and cheering. The players who prayed and supported Teo at the end was a promising point for me. Optimistic future, great coaching staff.

    Real point is that John Goodman is good for one outstanding catch a game! The 3rd and 10 leaping catch on the sideline against Purdue and then the one handed pass interference touchdown last night, might as well let him get a huge catch early and then bench him haha.

  10. fitz79 - Sep 16, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Although I’ve always admired him, as of last night Manti T’eo is officially my favorite Notre Dame football player. To deal with that sort of adversity and still perform so well should be an inspiration to us all. I kept him in mind in church this morning when I said my prayers. Go Irish!

  11. mentoneirish - Sep 16, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    5 straight punts is unacceptable in any game.
    Fortunately, the defense was great and well conditioned.

    • ndfaithful - Sep 16, 2012 at 9:31 PM

      “5 straight punts is unacceptable in any game.”

      Really? You can’t “accept” it in any game?
      You wouldn’t take 5 straight punts to ensure you win the superbowl?
      You wouldn’t take 5 straight punts to burn clock and let your defense win when you already have a safe lead?

      I suppose you’d sling it around the yard to pad your lead?
      What a nonsense comment…

      I take it we had 5 straight punts Saturday. You win by 17 on the road there against #10 and you can punt it 50 times for all I care.

      Mentone – news flash. We won. It was awesome. So sorry you were too busy second guessing the coach to enjoy the awesome win.

      ugh. Why do so many Irish fans have to be a loser even when we win a great game?

      • dmac4real - Sep 16, 2012 at 10:01 PM

        You, Sir, have had the two greatest, most rational posts i have ever seen on this comment section. Well done.

    • tadk1969 - Sep 17, 2012 at 2:24 AM

      You are obviously just a “fan” and the only football you’ve ever played is either in your own backyard with imaginary friends, or a video game. Punting the ball is apart of football, and every time you have the ball you don’t score, its about strategy and playing the game, putting your opponent in a bad situation close to your own goal line. You should have your posting credentials taken away for making such an idiotic and senseless post, moron.

    • tadk1969 - Sep 17, 2012 at 2:28 AM

      Yeah, I’m talking to you Mentoneirish. Moron

    • bernhtp - Sep 17, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      You forgot to complain about the sequential rushing plays for a loss when the QB took a knee. Sheesh!

  12. nudeman - Sep 16, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    I have seen posts about how Kelly “got sooooo conservative” in the 2nd half

    Seriously???

    I don’t have a transcript of all the plays in my hands, but really …
    EG threw ZERO interceptions
    There were Zero turnovers
    They were a decided underdog

    THEY WON BY 17 POINTS

    Don’t like EG’s stats?
    Here’s a best guess at what Tommy’s stats would have been:

    21 – 34
    220 yards
    1 TD
    3 INTs
    1 Fumble

    Irish lose

    I absolutely LOVED it every time EG threw it 10 yards out of bounds
    This is a true game manager with the ability to make big plays

    • dmac4real - Sep 16, 2012 at 10:03 PM

      100% agree. But ND fans will always Bitch. (And the shot at Tommy was unnecessary, thought we moved on nude?)

    • bernhtp - Sep 16, 2012 at 10:08 PM

      Bingo. I thought the playcalling was great.

      When you’re ahead, your defense is shutting down their offense, and your punter in pinning them back, you rationally take the potentially risky stuff out of your game plan. You tell your QB to throw the ball away rather than to risk a negative play. Eifert doesn’t get passes over the middle. etc.

      While Golson missed a few passes he would love to have back, he generally played great. He made big plays, got the team ahead, and then made sure he didn’t lose the game. Perfect.

    • ndgoldandblue - Sep 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM

      As usual, I agree with you, nude. For some reason, a lot of people don’t put too much stock in turnovers, but I think they are a major contributor to the result of a game. While Tommy did put up some gaudy passing stats last year, he also turned the ball over a lot. I know that our defense looks great, but they were also pretty stout last year.

      Frankly, I think the biggest difference between this year and last year is Notre Dame’s improvement with limiting mistakes, particularly turnovers. Now, I know, as someone pointed out on another board, the Irish are 3-0 against teams that they had a 3-0 record against last year. But, something just feels different this year. The offense doesn’t look as good as it did at the beginning of last year, but it looks better than it did at the end. Plus, I always feel like, with Golson’s arm strength, mobility, and smart decision-making (i.e. only one interception), the Irish will always have a chance to win the game. I didn’t have that feeling last year.

    • yllibnosredna - Sep 16, 2012 at 11:31 PM

      Right on the money. Last night, Kelly coached the best game of his tenure at ND –BY FAR. We dominated up front–and we won with a less than stellar but sufficient offensive effort. How badly I–and the rest of ND Nation–craved this under Charlie Weis. As mentioned in the AFLAC Trivia Question last night, Brady Quinn threw for 487 f…king yards back in ’05 against MSU and ND still lost the game!!! And flash-back to 2009, Clausen was statistically lights out awesome all year long and the team still finished 6-6. Reason being–Defense was mediocre at best, and CW never understood that the game–at least on the college level–is still consistently (9 out of10 times) decided in the trenches.

      Nick Saban gets this, Les Miles gets this, and it looks like BK (despite his penchant for the spread and throwing the ball all over the yard) understands this as well. That is why we flat out skull-f…ked a good MSU team 20-3 last night. Warts and all, I’ll take that every time.

      • nudeman - Sep 17, 2012 at 12:43 AM

        Ex-effing-actly

      • tadk1969 - Sep 17, 2012 at 2:41 AM

        Defense wins games,,,,excellent point about Brady throwing for 487 yds, and still losing.

  13. 9irish - Sep 16, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    The funny thing about all of these rankings is they are just pure conjecture for the first few weeks…now things are becoming clear, and the cream is rising to the top. Some of these ranked teams haven’t played ANYBODY yet, some haven’t even played away. Michigan opened up with a tough one, but we saw how THAT turned out. I think ND has opened up some eyeballs out there.

    Go Irish

  14. tadk1969 - Sep 17, 2012 at 2:39 AM

    Defense win games, not some high scoring Offense that can score every time they take the field. What good is it to have a high scoring offense without a strong reliable defense. Think back to the days since Lou left South Bend, we haven’t come close to having that kind of Defense in a long time. Maybe during the early days of Willingham, but Sat, night our Defense was spot on. When you look at teams like Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Alabama, and every other team in the top 10 they have some of the better Defenses in College Football.

  15. 1historian - Sep 17, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    This is still a YOUNG team and they are getting better every week. It is obvious that Golson is still on a tight rein under Kelly’s control, but he gets better every week. It was nice to see Goodman make that catch, it was nice to see Golson make that throw.

    Seeing Teo being FORCED to give interviews was aggravating – they are vultures and they have no respect for his grief. I would have preferred to see him just go straight to the locker room, ignoring those people, including the suit who was grabbing him by the sleeve. Would he have been disciplined if he had refused? Probably. I don’t like that.

    This is a young team that is getting better every week as is Kelly.

  16. FactoryDirect2U - Sep 17, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    The most overlooked STAR of the ND/MSU game, and the player who deserved a game ball, was Ben Turk:

    Player Punts Yards Avg
    B. Turk 8 339 42.4

    Michigan State Punt Returns
    Player Ret Yards Average
    N. Hill 1 6 6.0

    Ben kept them pinned down in their own end, usually starting within their own 20, or thereabout.

    The best punting performance I have ever witnessed in my 60 years watching Irish football!

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