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Five things we learned: Notre Dame 17, BYU 14

Oct 20, 2012, 9:41 PM EDT

Theo Riddick

From the sounds of it, you’d have thought Notre Dame’s football team beat BYU while keeping an eye on Twitter, Facebook and message boards. The same social media and white noise that Brian Kelly warned his team about all week was tough on the No. 5 team in the country after a hard fought 17-14 victory. So when the Irish head coach walked up the tunnel and into the winning team’s locker room, he let his team know that he expected to hear a little bit more celebration.

“I think the thing that was concerning for me the most is when our guys came in, I didn’t sense a great feeling after winning a tough, tough, football game,” Kelly said. “That’s a team that won ten games last year. That’s a bracket-buster team in basketball parlance. That’s a darn good football team.”

If the emotions were subdued inside Irish quarters, its because this football team understands that expectations have been elevated. And they’ll go nowhere but up after this victory, with Notre Dame packing their things and heading to Norman, Oklahoma where a date with the Oklahoma Sooners awaits.

With any quarterback controversy stopped in its tracks by Kelly before he even got off the field (Everett Golson will start against the Sooners), let’s find out what we learned in Notre Dame’s 17-14 victory.

***

This football team can win without playing its best.

It wasn’t pretty for the Irish. Nor was the team playing to the noble characteristics that got them this far. But against a plucky opponent that took advantage of its opportunities, Notre Dame answered the bell in the second half, taking care of business and winning the football game. And while there’s joy after a victory, it’s clear that this team understands the expectations that come with being a top-five team.

“We won, and that’s great,” center Braxston Cave said after the game. “But I think guys hold themselves to a higher standard than what we put out there.”

It’s not just the guys in the locker room. Irish nation took to the internet, filled with panic and anxiety as they watched Notre Dame bumbled their way through the middle section of the football game. The passing game went dry. The defense couldn’t get off the field. Kyle Brindza missed two field goals he needed to convert. On a day where nothing seemed to go right, the Irish just went back to work and kept plugging, paying no attention to the energy vacuum that turned Notre Dame Stadium into a collection of 80,000 nervous fans sitting on their hands.

With just about everybody following Irish football knowing that a win would set up a gigantic match-up in Oklahoma next weekend, the Irish may not have been flat or fallen into a trap, but they sure didn’t play sharp. So they’ll celebrate a victory today, and come back tomorrow ready to correct some sloppy play.

“Saturday, you win the football game, and you need to feel that excitement,” Kelly said. “And then Sunday, Sunday could be an interesting day. But let’s wait for Sunday. Saturday is for success and celebration.”

***

Even with George Atkinson stuck in neutral, Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood ran this team to victory.

Maybe Kelly was right when he wouldn’t put any stock into the fact that Theo Riddick was running for almost two yards per carry less than any other running back on the roster. Because today, Kelly was rewarded for putting his stock in Riddick, and the senior back played the best game of his Notre Dame career.

“I think what he did more than anything else is that he ran north and south and he plays physical,” Kelly said of Riddick’s efforts. “That gets an energy for everybody.  The O‑line sees a guy that’s really pounding it in there; I think that he got us that energy that we needed.”

No time was that energy needed more than in the third quarter, when the Irish offense was slumping and facing a third-and-one on their own 37-yard line. Needing to take advantage of a missed BYU field goal that could have turned the contest into a two-score game, Riddick broke a gang tackle at the line of scrimmage, kept his feet, and dashed for 55 yards before he was chased down at the BYU eight-yard line.

You’ll hardly mistake Riddick for a power back, a converted slot receiver who probably needs heels and a weight vest to get to his 5-foot-11, 200-pound program listing. But it’s been Riddick that’s gotten the tough inside yards for the Irish when they’ve needed them.

“He has run really hard and physical for us,” Kelly said. “Last year we had Jonas Gray, who was that big physical back. I’m not comparing him to Jonas because he’s not half his size, but running up between the tackles, it gives an energy to the entire team.”

Riddick’s long run was one of the game’s defining plays, but Cierre Wood also played his best game of the year. Facing a rush defense that was No. 3 in the country giving up just 67 yards a game, Wood sliced and diced his way through the Cougars for 114 yards on 18 carries. While George Atkinson struggled to get out in space and make plays, the veteran duo of best friends Riddick and Wood carried the load for the Irish.

***

From an afterthought to a key cog, Danny Spond has solved the Irish’s ‘Dog’ linebacker problems.

When Notre Dame received the commitment of blue-chip linebacker Jaylon Smith, many thought the youngster from Fort Wayne could step into the Irish starting lineup and fill a hole in the Irish linebacking corps. But after two seasons fighting his way through injuries and a crowded depth chart, Danny Spond has rewarded Brian Kelly for his faith.

Spond was one of Kelly’s first recruits, a prototype “RKG” before Irish fans really knew what one was. A converted high school quarterback, Kelly targeted Spond as a “big skill” talent, unsure of where he’d play once he got to South Bend, but sure that they’d find a place for a 6-foot-3, 230-pound athlete. After battling a scary migraine headache problem this preseason that on first glance looked career threatening, the junior linebacker has solidified the ‘Dog’ linebacker position, playing terrific football on the wide side of the field as both a run stopper and in pass coverage.

“He’s been so consistent,” Kelly said of Spond. “We don’t even take him off in nickel. I don’t know if you guys know it, he plays corner. Here is a guy that’s playing corner in our nickel package and running with No. 2 in bracket… He has been physical at the point of attack. Stopped teams that have wanted to go outside, I could go on and on.”

Spond iced the game with a game-ending interception deep in coverage, and made another terrific play knocking down a Riley Nelson pass. With the Irish playing Prince Shembo out of position last season on the wide side of the field and using Troy Niklas there as well, it was clear that Notre Dame needed someone to step up and take that role. While some expected that person to be sophomore Ben Councell, Spond has made himself an integral part of this defense.

“He’s been an unsung player on our defense and we appreciate him,” Kelly said. “He’s just played really, really well for us and he’s not even coming off the field.”

***

They may have given up two touchdowns, but the Irish defense played another rock solid game.

It says something about a defense when allowing 14 points is a disappointing performance. The Irish gave up their first defensive touchdown since Purdue, when broken coverage in the red zone resulted in Cody Hoffman‘s touchdown catch along the backline of the end zone. Fast-forward to another short field, as Kaneakua Friel‘s touchdown catch on linebacker Carlo Calabrese — with an assist to the replay official — put the Cougars in a rare place to score 14 points against the Irish defense in one quarter, the first time that’s happened this season.

“I think for us, we understood that we were beating ourselves and a lot of guys, we just needed to stay together,” Manti Te’o said after the game. “A lot of us were anxious and excited and we weren’t playing our brand of football. We came in at halftime and settled down and the result is the whole team just playing our brand of football.”

That brand of football included another banner game for the Irish’s star middle linebacker, with Te’o pitching in eleven tackles, his fourth interception of the season, and half a tackle-for-loss. After a few weeks with a quiet pass rush, the Irish also chased after Nelson all afternoon, getting four sacks — 1.5 courtesy of Stephon Tuitt — and forcing a few holding calls.

The Irish got a huge break when Nelson missed an open receiver behind the secondary, but otherwise Bob Diaco‘s unit created its own luck in the second half, limiting the Cougars to just 128 yards on 32 plays.

“We are finishing so well. It goes to their conditioning and mental and physical toughness,” Kelly said. “They believe they are going to win football games.  Doesn’t matter if they are behind. They have an energy about them that they believe they are going to win.”

***

With Tommy Rees in the game, Tyler Eifert came alive. The rest of the passing game? Not so much.

It didn’t take long to figure out that Tyler Eifert has missed having Tommy Rees at quarterback. In the game’s first quarter, Eifert matched his season high in catches and scored a touchdown. While he and Rees didn’t connect again for the rest of the game, Eifert’s presence drew nearly exclusive double-coverage on the Irish star, forcing the Irish offense to change their method of attack.

That change turned out to be a difficult one. Against a stingy defense, Notre Dame couldn’t get their passing offense rebooted, with TJ Jones‘ nice 33-yard gain on a good deep throw by Rees one of the only positive passing plays after the first quarter. With Davaris Daniels letting a football hit him in the facemask before it fell for an interception and Rees missing a few throws in the flat to Theo Riddick, Kelly decided to turn to the running game to win the game.

And while most people still peg Kelly for a gun-slinging pass-happy coach, the Irish head coach didn’t want it any other way.

“We always philosophically like to go in thinking about running the football first,” Kelly said. “That’s who we are. We are becoming that kind of football team on offense. You talk about finding an identity; that’s why we talk with it.  Even when we were down, we kept running the football.

“It’s our identity and what we do. There were some opportunities we probably could have thrown the ball and didn’t need to take advantage of it at this point.  But again, that’s how we are playing the game now.”

Anybody looking for Rees to provide the missing spark in the Irish passing offense probably came away disappointed. The junior went 7 of 16 for 117 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his start, modest numbers against a top-25 passing defense. But the quarterback played well enough to win, even if it was mostly getting the Irish into the right run checks and handing off the football.

Those handoffs led to an astonishing 270 yards on the ground, powering the Irish to 7-0 on the year and setting the stage for a very big road trip to Oklahoma, where a top ten Sooners squad awaits.

“Listen, you can’t win games by 28 and 30 points. You need to find ways to win,” Kelly said. “That’s who we are.  There’s a lot of teams around the country that have made their programs on winning 7-6 and 13-7. It’s just who we are. Embrace who we are.”

It may not have been pretty, but it’s certainly hard to argue with the results.

105 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. clownsfan - Oct 21, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Gonna find out if ND is for real this week. Gonna need to score some more pts if they want to win. It’d be nice if they had 1 good QB as opposed to flip flopping between 2 mediocre(at best) ones.

    • gtizzo - Oct 22, 2012 at 12:35 AM

      I wouldn’t be so quick to blame the QBs. I have been critical of Kelly, but really I hope ND learns to run the ball in the first half more. I think Kelly would like to throw it, but line up with 3 tight ends and run more. I think Golson would benefit because it would mean less pressure.

  2. ndmsu2006 - Oct 21, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    Don’t care what the score was -this was a nice win for ND. EG will give us the edge over OK next week.

  3. joeschu - Oct 21, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    My 5:

    1. The legend of Tommy has finally been put to rest.

    2. We choose not to block on punt returns. We had one where we had 4 guys saunter up to the 3 personal protectors and slightly bump them, leaving one guy a free run at Neal’s head. Let’s just try hitting a few blocks.

    3. Another Te’o for Heisman game. He may have over-run a few plays (looked like the Te’o of old), but the pick was huge and his D came up huge again.

    4. Can’t afford missed kicks against top competition. We need that operation to step up after 2 rough weeks.

    5. I hope Golson learned his lesson. Kelly said Everett lobbied hard to be active for this game. If you want to be the starting QB on a team vying for the national championship, you get your backside out of bounds or down on the slide when you see a defender zero’ing in on you. No more fumbles, no more big shots. A day to see it from the side could be huge for his development.

    • nd1rishfan - Oct 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      I would click on the the thumbup icon more if it would let me. Great points.

      Item #2, I was wondering if I was the only one noticing this. Seems like whoever they stick back there has zero protection to even try to get a return started. The punt return needs to work on this…at the very least give the returner a chance for positive yards. We’ve been seeing way to many fair catches. Field position will become much more become important against the “elites” like OU and USC in the upcoming weeks.

  4. irish1958 - Oct 21, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    I wasn’t too shot up with the tv shot of (

  5. irish1958 - Oct 21, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    Damn IPad with the tv shot og Golson sitting on the bench with a sour look on his face. He didn’t appear to be in the game. Was he pouting?

  6. atw34 - Oct 21, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Another week, another WIN! That is the ultimate bottom line. To quote Herman Edwards, “you play to win the game”!

    It would be nice if we looked “prettier” on offense. But we are 7-0 people, 7-0! Let me repeat that…….7-0!

    If someone just read our comment section here, without knowing what our record is(I’ll remind you again we are 7-0); I imagine they would guess we are 3-4 or 4-3!

    We complain all last year when we lose, now were winning and undefeated……7-0, remember; and we’re STILL complaining! I bet if we go on the win the National Championship, some of you will still find something to complain about.

    Enjoy the ride people, enjoy the ride! Keep up the good work Keith!!

    • Jennifer - Oct 21, 2012 at 9:30 PM

      Thanks atw34. Time for a reality-check overhall here. My mantra this week is “7-0, 7-0….7-0. It’s been a LONG time coming, and I’m humming it until……nevermind.

  7. ndfaithful - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    A few random thoughts…

    1. Why are so many people happy that the ‘legend of Tommy Rees’ got dispelled? Would it have been that bad if he had had a glorious season that became legend? I don’t get it. All I can conclude is that there are a lot of petty, insecure people that would have been upset because they have already judged him and don’t want to be proven wrong. How sad and petty for them.

    2. Why do people think so highly of Oklahoma? I admit I am ignorant about their team and don’t watch them often. On paper, they haven’t beaten anybody all that impressive and didn’t score much against the one good defense they’ve played. What makes them so scary or highly ranked?

    3. When the team wins and plays “great”, why are so many people anxious to criticize the guys that only played “good”? When the team wins and plays “good”, why are so many people to criticize the guys that played “ok”?

    When we were kids, we celebrated the wins and talked about the great plays all week. Like Rees (yes – Rees) to Eifert yesterday… Like Riddick stumbling and staying up to make a big play… Like Manti’s athletic interception… Instead, this board is full of “grown-ups” criticizing Golic, Happy that TR came “back to earth”, and so on.

    I’m so happy they won and I think this team is fun and special. I also think my 14 year old son is a much better fan than the whiners around here.

    • nudeman - Oct 21, 2012 at 1:26 PM

      ndfaithful
      In reply to your points:
      1. I’d have been delighted if he had come out, thrown 5 TDs and played great. But there was never a chance of that because he’s mediocre at best as a full game QB. I’m tired of the QB debate, and tired of the dwindling few who say “told ya” every time Rees plays 3 quarters and “leads” them to 6 points. This game is a harsh reminder of just who TR is and who he isn’t.

      2. Good point about Oklahoma. I for one don’t feel confident about this game. But maybe the pessimism isn’t well founded. If I had to guess why so many are in fear I’d say it’s because OK has been nationally highly ranked for several years now, ND hasn’t, and no one even here expected ND to be 7-0. So the thought is “wow; are we ready for this?”. Also I saw them yesterday against KU (who’s terrible, so TIFWIW) and they looked awesome. 52 pts in the first half. I don’t think ND’s offense could do that against a HS team.

      3. Also a good point. Lou Holtz said something like “You know you’ve made progress as a head coach when fans start complaining about HOW you win”. That’s just the way fans – including me – are.

      • gtizzo - Oct 22, 2012 at 12:43 AM

        Tommy Rees and Golson struggle because they are asked to run an offense without an identity. Pick your QB and the play book changes. Golson can run, Rees can’t, Hendrix is a question mark, each QB decides what defense is played.

    • joeschu - Oct 22, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      There’s no delight in Rees playing poorly. I would have been thrilled had he appeared as the 2nd coming of Montana and begun his meteoric rise to fame Saturday. I would happily recant every bad thing I’ve said about his low ceiling and 8-5 level abilities. Nothing would make me happier.

      However, I think the reaction you’re seeing in this forum is a response to our author’s fondness for Rees. No one is delighting in an guy in blue & gold playing poorly. We’re simply hoping to dispense with the notion that our starting QB (Everett Golson) isn’t our best QB.

  8. ihatemistate - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    You folks can all thank me for the win, I was so afraid we were going to lose I left and went to the grocery store for not more than 10 minutes, came back and we were ahead!! Compliments to Theo Riddick, what an effort, his best game ever for the Irish. Must say they gutted it out and won another tough game that I’ve been worried about all week. Playing BYU is like playing the Ramblin Wreck of Georgia Tech–when they said Rees was starting it made it even worse, I gotta get a pacemaker!!!. Wish they would’ve used Goodman since Eiffert was heavily covered. Oh well, we win again!!!

  9. rpbags - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    The game was not great by any strech and i just cant understand why the offense is always stuck in the mud? I thought that i would see the same offense that BK ran in cincy but i guess ND changes people and changed coaches. If chip kelly were here it would be a mirror immage of his offense in orgeon…so why cant we see that here at ND? No way that will get it done this week in Norman and im just keepin it real…Its awsome to be 7-0 and i think if the stars aglin for us on sat we can find a way to win which at the end of the day its win and move on to the next week!!!! GO IRISH

    • ndfaithful - Oct 21, 2012 at 1:57 PM

      I think if Chip Kelly were here, it would be a mirror image of his Oregon offense. And his Oregon offense would have to play a much tougher schedule. I think ND’s offense would look a lot better against:

      Arkansas State
      Fresno State
      Tenessee Tech
      Arizona
      Washington State
      Washington
      Arizona State

      The average ranking for those teams are over 65th in the country. I couldn’t even use stats for Tennessee Tech because I think they’re a middle-school team. Coming up is Colorado (ranked 123rd) !!

      ND has faced teams with an average defensive ranking of 38th.

      Let’s see how Oregon does against the defenss of USC (18th), Stanford (24th), and Oregon State (17th) before we thiink the grass is so much greener on the other Kelly’s side of the fence.

      I’m pretty sure that ND could put up 300 yards rushing a game if we played Oregon’s opponents. As we did when we played teams with similar defensive rankings when we played Navy and Miami. Our scoring average in those games was Oregon like and everybody loved the way the Irish played in those games.

      Am I saying our offense is better than Oregon’s. No, not exactly. I’m just saying I’d love to play their schedule or meet them in the NC game. I think we’d be having roast duck for the holidays.

      I am just keeping it even more real…

  10. dsg1616 - Oct 21, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Great Sunday morning entertainment reading the collective jerk off session of these posters. ND is 3 touchdown losers to most of the teams in the top 10.

    • usafa68 - Oct 21, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      Considering the way Notre Dame’s defense has played all season, this is a very brash and bold statement!

      • ndfaithful - Oct 21, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        Brash and bold? I’d say more like: Stupid.

  11. usafa68 - Oct 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    * Less than two minutes to go in the first quarter – slow developing end run play on second and 1 from BYU 3 yd line to Atkinson / It would be great If ND had plays designed to let the backs hit the holes quicker
    * Do they have safety valves – they never seem to find them or use them
    * Oklahoma should continuously test Fox and Calabrese in their pass defense skills
    * I have never seen a more pathetic punt return team in my life!
    * Do Troy Niklas and Mike Golic plan on joining the offense soon?
    * We are three seasons into Coach Kelly’s tenure, and we still can’t get through games without unnecessary times out…why?
    * Every week they talk about getting the ball to George Atkinson ” in space”; why cant the line “make” space?
    * Running back preferences: Theo Riddick, Cam McDanie,l George Atkinson and the other guy
    * The quarterback development and the whole offensive scheme belongs at Cincinnati, not at Notre Dame!
    * Because of a great defense, they are 7-0!

    • c4evr - Oct 23, 2012 at 9:40 PM

      Bravo. The most decisive, incisive, and insightful post yet. It should be reposted every week to remind everyone what needs fixing.

  12. norvturnersneck - Oct 21, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I agree with the limited playbook; however, maybe he is throwing it out the window until he plays SC and Oklahoma to open it up a little more. It’s not a bad idea either with this game not being a major factor as the ranked opponents in the major scheme of things.
    I’m proud of the defense for shutting down BYU after half time in points. I was nervous early in the 4th, but they settled down to make it a goose egg for BYU. I notice ND gets stronger as the game goes on like against Miami, both Michigans, and Stanford (minus OT).

    • ndfaithful - Oct 21, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      uh, what went wrong in OT against Stanford?

  13. ihatemistate - Oct 21, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Boy, it must be we are all flat this week..never have seen so many thumbs down. Most people are just trying to look at things from a realistic prospective, not starry eyed. Geesh..abandoning this til next week.

  14. alsatiannd - Oct 21, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    It may not have been 2 RBs in the backfield like I asked for before the game. But the game sealing drive, when every run included a man in motion faking a reverse (? or what ever you call it) had the same effect. Showing two running options slowed down 2 or 3 edge defenders enough that it opened up the center a little. Except when BYU completely sold out to stop the center. Otherwise, good example of what I was talking about.

  15. yogihilt - Oct 21, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Has anyone seen a line vs Ok next week?

    • ndfaithful - Oct 21, 2012 at 2:41 PM

      yep. The line around here (except for me and a few others) is “we don’t stand a chance”.

      • gtizzo - Oct 22, 2012 at 12:51 AM

        Don’t worry about line. The fact is the Irish are still in the BCS picture win or lose. Nobody in the top 10 can match the Irish on the schedule front.

      • alsatiannd - Oct 22, 2012 at 6:37 AM

        Those are the best kind of odds for real fighting Irish.

  16. dbldmr - Oct 21, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    The only thing in this team’s control is how close to its capabilities it plays. The defense has shown it’s among the best this year. The offense is challenged, not dynamic in any way so far, but it hasn’t turned the ball over as it did last year. Coupled with the defensive improvement, the absence of costly mistakes has allowed the Irish to win the same games they would have lost last year.

    I don’t expect anything different for the balance of the season. This team has shown its character. That won’t change. Tough team. Tough games.

    • nd1rishfan - Oct 21, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      Well said dbldmr.

      faithful…I would imagine just about everyone here is a passionate fan, like yourself. I would also imagine that we are all extremely excited and thrilled where the Irish find themselves at this point in the season. We see all the great positive things they are doing this year (they wouldn’t be where they are if they didn’t) but we also see areas of improvement to continue their push to and past some of the more challenging games in front of them. For the most part, the items that were brought up that you may deem as negative are legitimate concerns. They need to improve on these items in order to get past the tougher/better teams. These teams are better because they exploit these mistakes more so then the some of the teams they have already faced.

      So, to say “we don’t stand a chance.” is the sentiment from most of us, I disagree. If they fix some of the mistakes they made this past game then we have a great chance to win against a real good Oklahoma team. If they play the way they did yesterday against an OU team at home next Saturday night…well then, “we don’t stand a chance.”

      • papadec - Oct 21, 2012 at 7:28 PM

        nd1 – Oklahoma’s one loss, this season, was at home. If THEY play the way they did in that loss, against the ND Defense, THEY don’t stand a chance!

  17. jerseyshorendfan1 - Oct 21, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Remember that old SNL skit with the weightlifters that parodied Schwartzenegger? Well, you are a little girly man and I am here TO PUMP YOU UP!! The Irish are going to kick Oklahoma’s ass next week and move to 8-0. This is a magic season unfolding before our eyes. Call it magic, luck of the Irish, the way the ball bounces or what have you, we HAVE IT this year. It reveals itself in some subtle and not so subtle ways: Miami dropping two sure home run balls, BYU missing a home run opportunity, Manti turning into a turnover machine, etc. Maybe its the karmic wheel spinning back around, because we sure didn’t have the magic last year (USF and UM games come immediately to mind). You just have to be open to the possibility and accept the magic you’re witnessing. Anyway, we are going to destroy the Sooners next Saturday night, I can feel it. What is a sooner anyway? That big steer that pulls that wagon around? Screw it, it just makes me hungry and I’ll have a big steak dinner next week after the Irish win. I actually read a post on here that said something like, I just hope we don’t get destroyed. Really? That is the way you root for your team? F*** Oklahoma. We are #5 in the nation, they should be pissing their pants worrying about our D. Hope we don’t get destroyed? WTF? We’re afraid to go with you Bluto….Well, not me. Wormer, he’s a dead man. Marmalarde? Dead. Neidermeyer? Dead. Landry Jones? Who’s with me?

  18. dbldmr - Oct 21, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    “…the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

    “He’s on a roll.”

    I’m with you, Bluto!

  19. irish2011 - Oct 21, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    @jersey
    HELL YEAH!!!!!

  20. 1notredame1 - Oct 21, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Greetings:

    I’m a hardcore Irish fanatic, but there are 2 things in this article that I don’t understand.

    1. What is a ‘Dog’ linebacker?

    2. The sentece reads: “Spond was one of Kelly’s first recruits, a prototype “RKG” before Irish fans really knew what one was.” What is an ‘RKG’?

    Please enlighten me. Thank you.

    • ndfaithful - Oct 21, 2012 at 4:22 PM

      ‘Dog’ is usually the weak-side linebacker. The dog linebacker usually has to drop into coverage more and play a little more conservatively.

      ‘Cat’ is the strong-side linebacker and usually get to play a little more aggressively at the line of scrimmage and rush the passer.

      RKG is for “Right Kind of Guy”, a phrase Brian Kelly used when he had his first press conference and was introduced as the new head football coach. He wad describing the kind of players he wanted to recruit. Guys that come to ND don’t come to be average… Guys that come to ND want to be great… In the classroom, on the field… that kind of stuff.

  21. jerseyshorendfan1 - Oct 21, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    I really didn’t know what a Sooner was so I did some research. It relates back to the expansion of the West in the late 1800’s when people were able to stake their claim and receive acreage from the government so long as they agreed to homestead there. This, from the OU Athletics site, defines a Sooner:

    “One of the few rules to claiming a lot of land was that all participants were to start at the same time. Those who went too soon were called “Sooners”. Sooners were often deputy marshals, land surveyors, railroad employees, and others who were able to legally enter the territory early to mark out choice pieces of land for themselves or others.”

    I think today they’re called investment bankers and hedge fund managers or cheaters in the common vernacular. Either way, kind of a lame nickname for a sports team. If I need a history lesson to ascertain why your name is what it is, that’s kind of lame. Wow 5 minutes of my life that I’ll never recoup. Where’s the Tylenol?

  22. ndirishfan1 - Oct 22, 2012 at 1:09 AM

    Notre Dame has too much talent at the skill positions to score this little this frequently.

    That being said I think the Irish can run effectively against the Sooners which should open things up for Golson – whether it be with his feet or his arms. He’s going to have to make a couple of plays – running or throwing – if they are going to run.

  23. 1historian - Oct 22, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    An ugly win, which this was, is always better than a pretty loss.

    There are 2 big name opponents left on this schedule, Oklahoma and that team from Los Angeles that has kicked our butts so frequently in the last 10 or 11 years.

    Both on the road.

    It would help if we had a QB who doesn’t spend so much of his time looking at the sideline for the next play – among other things it prevents any offensive momentum from building up.

    This is a team for us all to be proud of, but it doesn’t strike me as NC caliber.

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