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Mailbag: Purdue (and Michigan aftermath)

Sep 12, 2013, 11:05 PM EDT

Jackson Russell

Back-to-back undefeated regular seasons is dead. What’s there left to dream about?

Oh, a BCS appearance? Another run back into the Top Ten? Wins over a schedule that’ll still be one of the toughest in the country? So there’s that.

Let’s get onto the questions, which were a bit more prickly.

@Okerland: Now that Reesus fell for the first time, will he follow the stations and fall two more times?

I really like what you’re doing here. Gold star for Okerland. As for Reesus, falling two more times is pretty possible, especially considering the schedule he faces.

But I do think this team is really talented and we’re probably all a little bit too down on the boys in blue and gold, though a disheartening loss to Michigan will do that for you.

Irishlee10: Why is Kelly so hesitant to put in Greg Bryant? GAIII isn’t getting it done. We need all-around backs that can catch passes. Kelly needs to give GB some opportunities before he takes his talents back to South Beach

@dlkall01: Who do you expect to see play this weekend that we didn’t see at Michigan?

I’m going to now embark on the Greg Bryant (or other underused running backs) section of questioning. Maybe 20 percent of the questions received had some variation of “Why isn’t Greg Bryant playing?” “Won’t he get mad and transfer?” “Why won’t Brian Kelly play freshman?”

I do think Greg Bryant gets a few series this weekend, especially if the Irish offense gets on a roll. But everybody needs to pump the brakes on the uproar/worries about a freshman five-star player not seeing the field much in the first eight quarters of the season, especially on a team with a pretty talented backfield that includes a guy with a career rushing average around 7-yards a pop and a USC transfer.

For every Todd Gurley and Duke Johnson, there are plenty more guys like Lache Seastrunk, who take a few years to figure it out and still turn into the all-world talents they appear to be. Let’s not heap a bunch of focus on Bryant and his rumored (and I have heard ZERO rumors on this front) unhappiness, or you’ll just be contributing to a scenario that could turn into a self-fulfilling prophesy.

@CristIsRisen: Do you think we’ll see Wulfeck punting soon? Brindza’s a champ but handling all kicking duties has to be a killer.

I don’t think we’ll see anybody but Brindza until he proves he can’t handle the work. Brindza’s performance at Michigan was mighty impressive, and it’s not like we’re asking this guy to do heart surgery, fix a torn ACL and do Lasik surgery.

Irishaggie: Besides the x’s and o’s I noticed that the players don’t look very loose out there, especially the defense. Do you think they get caught up thinking about the “process” too much that they forget to just go out and play football?

No offense Irishaggie, but I’m having a hard time with your assumption here? Feels a lot like those Octobers watching baseball when broadcasters would fawn all over Derek Jeter, talking about how much he loved baseball and how clutch he was.

If you’ve found a coach that has done a better job of getting more out of his players over the past 5-6 years than Brian Kelly, I’d like to meet him. Prior to last Saturday, only Oregon and Alabama had done better in their last 25 games. That’s not a team that I think is too weighed down with process.

bb90grad: Could lack of results from Nix and Tuitt (besides ST’s weight gain) be from neither being named captain? I know no one tanks it on purpose, but if one were a projected All American and high draft pick and then not named, I would think one would be less inclined to assume leadership when needed, especially when someone else was anointed.

That theory feels like it’d work on an episode of Gossip Girl, but I don’t think it applies here. We tend to forget that Tuitt and Nix’s performances aren’t always seen on the stat sheet, so before we start killing these two for their performances or insinuate someone is tanking because they didn’t get a C on their jersey, you have to remember that sacks can come in bunches and the game tape has affirmed what many people know: Both these guys are really, really good.

@EnderWillSave: With the bad news coming out today about Alabama putting a blemish on the SEC, while Mack Brown and Lane Kiffin are melting down week by week, do you see ND possibly gaining more ground and influence in recruiting battles against all these schools?

I don’t see ND going head to head with Alabama and Texas all that often in recruiting, though guys like Cole Luke come to mind. As for USC, if things don’t straighten up in a hurry, it could be open season on Southern California, though Jim Mora has proven to be a guy that can pull his fair share of talent.

Bad news lasts only as long as the media cycle keeps it alive, and you could tell this week that Nick Saban wasn’t about to let that happen. Color me skeptical that the NCAA will be able to do much to take down a Crimson Tide program that’s a multi-million dollar industry.

@DBrammeier34: Will BK ever make the guys go hard for 4 quarters even against a weaker team? Regardless of score?

Did you forget about the 41-3 beat down the Irish put on Miami last season when the No. 2 offense marched down and got a late touchdown? I think Saturday night will be a good time to get some of the frustration out, if they’re at all able to do it.

@Irishfootball11: Who would win in a 3 way Hell in a cell match between @TheSubwayDomer vs @OneFootDown vs @herloyalsons? #blogwar

Wow. That’s a lot to analyze there. It feels a little unfair for Subway, who feels a lot like a one man army, though he’s certainly got a little crazy to him. Whiskey over at OFD is a guy that you could mistake for Captain America and I’ve spent some time with the crew from HLS, too.

My guess is that you’d put them in a cell and they’d just start telling jokes about Lane Kiffin.

@BobbyReed25: Seemed like our QB pressure has been a step late thus far. Speed or a timing issue? More stunts by DL?

Two words: Devin Gardner.

@Dascenzo: Hendrix time yet?

No.

Steincj36: A Tale of Two Kellys…. Chip brings his high power, fast paced Oregon O to the Eagles, and they pick it up and thrive with it in week 1. Brian’s fast paced spread offense never made it to South Bend, even though he’s been talking about it for 4 years.Where’s this offense we’ve been promised?

You’re really still waiting? I don’t think Brian Kelly ever promised that. Blame us, the writers and media guys that tried to guess what ND would look like after watching three Cincinnati games.

Kelly has been pretty consistent in what he’d do: Play with the personnel he has. Chip sure looked exciting on Monday night, but Michael Vick appeared to be gasping for air and limping like an old man. (As a Vick owner, I’m a bit worried…)

For everybody that loves the up-tempo offense, look what Doug Marrone did last weekend with his Buffalo Bills. Refused to run any time off the clock and gave Tom Brady one more chance to win the game, which he did.

idratherbeinsouthbend: Is there any buzz in inner circles that Tuitt’s weight gain has been a negative?

You mean other than on every Notre Dame message board everywhere?

Scottatnd: Why does BK go through all the trouble to recruit these great running backs when he has proven that he is a “spread out and throw it” coach?

Did you want last season? That looked like a running back friendly offense.

blackirish23: During our painfully long off-season, you mention Robinson as a potential red zone threat. What are the chances we start to see a bit more of him in those situations against Purdue?

Well, they need a few more chances in the red zone, first. But I’d guess maybe this weekend? (Not ready to make another call, but I’d like to see a short-side fade route to Robinson while Ricardo Allen mans up on the other side of the field with TJ Jones or DaVaris Daniels.

blackirish23: Also, what are your thoughts about using Hendrix similar to how Florida used Tim Tebow during the Chris Leak era, i.e. Bring him in as a run only QB at goal line situations in the pistol formation? Just a thought.

I am not one to trust Hendrix’s decision making skills down at the goal line. His one zone read attempt in the red zone ended with him handing the ball to Tarean Folston when the keeper was wide open.

ndcanuck: Given how he was picked on last week – is the “C” on Bennett Jackson’s jersey a distraction for him? Clearly some on the field leadership is called for on that side of the ball, but is Bennett the right guy to fill that role when maybe he should be working on his game?

I thought they picked on KeiVarae Russell more than Jackson, but I don’t think giving up some passes is a product of the C, but rather playing a pretty tough position. And there really isn’t that much more heaped on Jackson’s plate other than helping to decide heads or tails at away games.

Jackson is going to have a nice career playing on Sundays. Last Saturday probably wasn’t one of his best games, but he’ll help out more often than not.

It’s a long season.

  1. dickasman - Sep 12, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    Steinjc, nice question. I’m still waiting for that bearcat offense I saw w arman binns. I mean we’ve had better talent than that. Must be nd jitters thing

    • dickasman - Sep 12, 2013 at 11:32 PM

      For Christ sakes let the goat in!

      • domer77blowsgoats - Sep 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        Thanks man!! maybe KA can’t use my name in an actual article or maybe is should start twittering….

    • c4evr - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      If this doesn’t sound like a promise at 1 min. 11 seconds, I don’t know what does:

      And ‘gasping for air’, that’s the rationale behind not running an uptempo offense?? Thought that was what conditioning was for. I thought that ND hired this guy from gobearcats.com:

      While many coaches lecture on the virtue of possession time, Kelly stresses up-tempo play on both sides of the ball, using each practice to make his point. Armed with his no-huddle offense and the philosophy of a defense that must play 60 minutes, the Bearcats’ mentor brings a different attitude to each workout.

      Kelly’s formula for success starts with an imaginative offense. Despite being forced to use five quarterbacks in 2008, UC ranked second in the BIG EAST and 24th nationally in passing offense (254.1), and was also second in the league and 27th nationally in passing efficiency (139.4). At the same time, UC’s defense led the BIG EAST in sacks (2.9), and tackles for a loss (6.5).

      Kelly also believes in a strong special teams unit with starters from both sides of the ball participating. The Bearcats led the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in net punting with an average of 41.5 yards per punt. UC also led the BIG EAST in kickoff returns (24.2).

  2. irishlee10 - Sep 13, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    Thanks for taking my question Keith and go Irish!

  3. steincj36 - Sep 13, 2013 at 12:24 AM

    BK never promised a Cincy offense, but every other word out of his mouth is tempo. I guess when you don’t actually say “uptempo,” you can get away with the mess he calls tempo.

    I mean, we started the season with a sub penalty…. That got the tempo ratcheted up.

  4. ndgoldandblue - Sep 13, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    Speaking of prickly, Keith, a few of your answers were a bit on the sharp side. I can see where you’re coming from, though. You’re probably the most objective contributor to a Notre Dame site that doesn’t require objectivity. You proved that with your latest installments of 5 things and good/bad/ugly. But…there are also times when a board operator has to reel in a fanbase that appears ready to jump ship, and I think that’s what you’re doing here. Just be prepared for a nasty aftermath if the Irish lose this Saturday.

  5. fnc111 - Sep 13, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    I cringe every time Rees drops back to pass. Would be a joy watching that big OL opening up holes for Bryant, Carlisle and Cam. I guess it’ll never happen but would remind you of the Zellars, Edwards and Becton years. Kelly has been the best recruiter Michigan could ask for.

  6. bb90grad - Sep 13, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    KA,

    Thanks for the response. Did not imply at that LN3 or ST are tanking, just that a spark may be missing on the D side, and that someone who’s not a formal captain might be less inclined to provide that spark, given all they have to do already.

    As a lawyer coworker jokes “the defense cannot reasonably expect me to accurately comment on the state of mind of the defendant at the time of the occurrence of the alleged incident”. I don’t expect you to read the teams’ minds. You do a great job of giving us your view. Keep up the good work.

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