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Irish face stiffest test thus far in Sooner skill players

Sep 24, 2013, 7:06 PM EDT

***

A coach’s weekly pressure conference is usually an exercise in platitudes. But as Brian Kelly took to the podium to discuss the Oklahoma Sooners, it wasn’t hard to hear the genuine respect in his voice, especially when talking about the offense Bob Stoops’ team brings to town.

“We’re going against an extremely skilled and talented football team,” Kelly said. “Their offensive depth at the skill position is as good as I’ve seen across the country.  Their wide receiving corps in particular, they can roll out as many as six to seven wide receivers… Depth at the running back, veteran offensive line, top two running backs returning.  I could probably go on and on.”

A year after allowing Landry Jones to throw for 356 yards, but still manage to hold the Sooners to just 13 points, Kelly’s Irish are facing an even steeper challenge for their defense, a group that showed signs of improvement last week against Michigan State. But there’s no mistaking the Sooners offense for that of the Spartans, a group that’s ranked 106th in the country. Oklahoma, after struggling against West Virginia and replacing redshirt freshman Trevor Knight at quarterback, exploded for 607 yards in Blake Bell’s first start, likely ending any quarterback controversy right before the Sooners’ bye week and first trip to South Bend since 1999.

Kelly talked about Bell’s success last week and what type of challenges a gigantic quarterback who can both run and throw presents to the Irish defense.

“He’s got a nice touch on the ball, a good presence about him,” Kelly said of Bell. “He looked like a thrower, not a runner.  I know he’s a big, physical strong kid, and I think he was used last year more in the goal line offense.

“He’s much more than a goal line offense quarterback. He’s a skilled passer of the football, and I think he maybe got a reputation that is not really fitting of who he is. I think he was a five‑star quarterback, and he can throw the football.”

The Irish defense will be facing a dual-threat quarterback for the fifth straight game they’ve played this season. With proper respect given to Temple’s Connor Reilly, Purdue’s Rob Henry, and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, Bell creates challenges that rival those of Devin Gardner, only a super-sized version at 6-6, 250-pounds.

“Somebody has got to have the quarterback within what you do defensively,” Kelly said. “I think that’s probably the biggest thing.  And you certainly just have to make sure that you’re solid in your tackling. But the biggest challenge is him having runs and passes built into the same play. That’s where it really becomes a challenge, because the kid can throw the football.”

The Irish have tweaked their secondary in the past few weeks, giving opportunities to safety Elijah Shumate, who Kelly says has worked into a three-for-two rotation with Austin Collinsworth and Matthias Farley, as well as freshman Devin Butler, who played some in nickel coverage last week along with fellow freshman Cole Luke.

Of course a big element in coverage will also come from the front seven, with linebackers like Jaylon Smith and Jarrett Grace needing to do a better job in coverage, and a defensive line needing to get to Bell with as few blitzers as possible, to keep this dangerous Sooners offense contained.

That was a formula that worked magic last season, getting off the field on third down and turning the Sooners offense one-dimensional. To win on Saturday, they’ll need to be able to do the same thing, something that’s proven difficult in life after Te’o.

“I thought defensively our game plan was to keep the ball in front of us, minimize the big plays.  I think that’s going to have to be the case again,” Kelly said when asked about his defense’s effort last season. “I think you’re going to have to see a similar kind of effort.  It’s going to have to be our best game of the year in all phases, including special teams.”

***

For more on Kelly’s press conference, read the transcript at IrishIllustrated.com:

  1. dickasman - Sep 24, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    I like the choice of words here, “stiff”!!! Y buddy, les pound it harrrrrrrd baby, lessss goooooo! Of course I’m talkin bout the rock here.

    • keelio19 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      This OKLA game is set up to be the same as last year, the only difference is, last year we didn’t lose to Michigan, (though we damn near did even with 6 turnovers) .

      All the experts are going to say, OKLA is going to pound the ball with the ‘Belldozer’, ND is going to be outmatched by the talent and speed that OKLA brings to the table. Like last year, the experts will predict our QB play will be the deciding factor. Last season it was that ‘Golson hadn’t won or been in a big game yet and that the true FROSH(RS) in him will show against the Sooners, this year, it’s going to be the same song but a different tune; ‘Tommy just played one of his worst games of his career this past week against MSU, he doesn’t have the arm strength or foot speed to win against this elite defense’, he’s going to have to bounce back or the Sooners are going to roll through SB easily. Which I agree, this game will depend on the QB performance, and if Tommy can avoid Turning the ball over, than I think the teams got an excellent shot of winning this game. I can’t remember where I saw this stat, but BK is 14-0 or 15-0 when his teams don’t turn the ball over, he is a game manager, and if the team doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers he finds ways to win, even if it’s not by 70 points like those jokes of a program at UofL and the Suckeyes.

      The ND fan base is screaming for Zaire, what I think a majority of you forgetful ND fans aren’t realizing, is Zaire is a left-handed QB, have you seen our right side of the line play this year or lack thereof, we don’t have BIG MIKE watching Zaire’s ‘Blind Side’, it’s not as if you can just flip the o-line and have martin and watt now start on the right side of the line, just so we can keep the defense honest. Believe me, we bring Zaire in, OKLA will still stack sit back in pass coverage and make Zaire beat them through the air, like they’re going to do with Tommy. Look, if Zaire comes to play and has the best start of any True Freshmen at ND, than I’m all for it, but BK is in the business of winning one game at a time, and I don’t see him taking the chance at a loss just to try and see how the FROSH will play, when he truly believes in Tommy and his ability to win the game for us, whether that’s a clouded judgment or not.

      Next, the argument about GB and Folston, unless you’re at practice or have film on the practice, I’m betting Kelly knows what he’s doing by playing Cam, Amir and GAIII more than the true fresh, there is obviously some flaw in their game for them to only get a few carries a game. Look, Kelly and Martin are seeing the same performances that we are on Saturday from GAIII and Amir and Cam, and there not pretty performances, but there is obviously something else that Kelly and Martin are seeing that we don’t that is keeping GB and Folston off the field. Maybe they’re in the doghouse like wood was last year, maybe they’re not Mentally ready, WHO knows, but to sit here and ASSume that putting them in will be any different is asinine. If anything I think it’s been our offensive line that is missing on the blocks that is causing our running game to be so stagnant, but that’s a reflection of the defense putting 7-8 guys in the box.

      I like others during this offseason thought that our offense was really going to shine this year, even without Golson. We saw the glitz and glamour from the offseason highlights, that showed our offense lighting up our “Stingy’ defense, and I like many thought we’ve got to have a better offensive performance this year with all these weapons. Though I think our eyes were playing tricks on us, our offense looked so good during the offseason highlight reels, because our defense is really not that good, at least in the new form that it’s taking. We need to go back to playing conservative zone defense, we need to play our secondary like we did last year, SAFE. I have belief in our secondary when they gain some more experience and depth, but just because our defense was so great last year, doesn’t mean it’s going to translate to an even better defense this year, just because they had some game time experience last year. Diaco needs to reevaluate his defense, improve our tackling, and I think Martin just needs to concede the offense completely over to BK from the first snap of the game. So far throughout the last 3 games, it seems as if Kelly is on the sideline with the play card in front of him calling the plays from the 2nd quarter on.

  2. onward2victory - Sep 24, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    I’m really hoping to see more of Greg Bryant this week. I can’t figure out why he’s not playing, and it really makes me question the coaches for the following reasons:

    -Physically: He’s as ready as any freshman you’ll ever see.
    -Experience: He’s been on varsity since he was in 8th grade against good competition in FL.
    -Mentally: RB is one of the more instinctual positions in the sport. It might not be the easiest position to learn, but it’s certainly not one of the most difficult.
    -Athleticism: unanimous 5 stars

    My point is this: If there was ever going to be a player that could step in and make an impact early, it would be GB! And as far as I can tell, he’s looked as good as anyone in his limited carries. I just don’t get it…

    • sm29irish - Sep 24, 2013 at 8:01 PM

      Nice points here! I completely agree with you it is getting difficult and frustrating to understand.

    • ndfaithful - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:04 PM

      I guess I partially understand the whole Folston & Bryant curiosity. But I just don’t get the total fascination and second guessing that goes on. I mean – what is it that makes you think these guys, or Bryant in particular would have any more success? So far, what are you going on?
      – high school highlights? They were all studs.
      – speed? They’re all pretty fast with GA3 at the top end.
      – muscles visible under his sleeve? – not sure that translates to instant success…

      I’m being serious. What makes you think that your quick glimpses of him on the bench qualifies you to say he’d be better?

      Consider, BK has seen all these attributes. He’s just happened to see a LOT more.

      I would also challenge some logic here… does his work in 8th grade really mean jack sh!t here?
      I think there’s a lot more to being a top RB than instincts. It’s not always a case where you just hand him the ball and say ‘score’.
      I guess you could do that if you’re going to give him a carry on every play. But I think they need to block, pick up blitzes, run routes… we don’t even know if he has the plays in his brain.

      I don’t have anything against him. I’d like him to succeed. But I have to think that obstacles between him and the field are mostly HIS problem to solve – not BK’s.

      • irish4006 - Sep 24, 2013 at 11:07 PM

        Bingo!

      • onward2victory - Sep 25, 2013 at 2:44 AM

        Faithful, you make some good points.

        But I really believe that Bryant is the best combination of size, strength, speed, ability to break tackles, elusiveness, and vision. Now he may not be the best at any one of those categories but he might be the best combination of all. I just want to give him a shot and see.

        At the beginning of the season I was super high on Carlisle and GA3 but neither have taken the job and “run” with it despite a lot of opportunity. And from the few carries we’ve seen from Bryant, it seems like he’s done really well! Just give him a game with about 7-10 carries and see what he can do so we can all shut up.

        I understand that the blocking and blitz pick up is important, and I think that’s where playing varsity since 8th grade comes in. He should have a better understanding and ability than most his age. Plus if you’ve watched the games, Rees tells the RB exactly who to block. Doesn’t seem that hard.

        Final point, other schools use freshman running backs all the time if they are talented enough. So it can be done, just give the kid a shot!!

      • ndfan33 - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:07 AM

        Well I think it’s because the running game has been so bad this far, why not play the ” heralded” freshman??

      • ndfaithful - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:17 AM

        @ndfan33:

        Like I said, I have nothing against Bryant…
        But they were all heralded freshmen at one point. Do you think that Tony Alford, Martin, and BK are all just missing something that’s obvious to, well – a few fans?

        Do you think the running game has stalled with GA3, AC, CM, and Folston and that Bryant would fix it all? I think that would be a very pleasant surprise.

      • upthera44 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:14 AM

        I mostly agree with you ndfaithful that CBK probably knows what he is doing and sees more than we see. So maybe Bryant and Folston aren’t looking better than the upperclassmen at this point.

        BUT I do wonder whether he isn’t too democratic. Is he trying to please everyone and be loyal to his upperclassmen when sitting GA or Cam on the bench and giving the freshman meaningful minutes would be a worthwhile experiment? When I hear him at press conferences say ‘they’re all good, they can all contribute’ I feel like I’m at a pre-school parent teacher conference where everyone is getting positive reinforcement. I get the sense that at Bama and some other programs, you’re either the guy or you’re not, there isn’t a lot of pampering. I’m not sure what the right approach is, but maybe being more decisive and trying some things (since what we’re doing isn’t working) is the answer.

    • thefightinfloyds - Sep 24, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      Gah! lets end this talk of Bryant and Folston getting the lions share of the carries. Usually freshman RBs dont get on the field early because they have to learn their blocking assignments. Bryant looks imposing and Folston has had a couple of nice plays but Im sure that Kelly would put them in more if he were comfortable with their knowledge of the offense. Im sure theyre talented, every recruitng service and ND fan will tell you that, but Kelly isnt holding them back just to spite you. I think a lot of fans want ND to get their new bright, shiny toys out on the field but we should be worried about getting the best 11 guys out there and playing well. I was talking to my buddy today and he said an interesting thing…this whole season is resting on Rees, if he goes down then its pretty much over. Therefore when teams are blitzing like crazy i.e Mich St, then you have to keep a TE or two TEs in just to help in max protect plus a RB at times…our lack of depth at QB is basically cutting our playbook in half.

    • mayo1010 - Sep 25, 2013 at 7:19 AM

      you got it right. you don’t get it.

      • c4evr - Sep 25, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        Mayo, I don’t get it. You never say anything about football – you just attack whoever disagrees with faithful.
        Are you his mother or lover? Or both?

      • mayo1010 - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:11 AM

        C4–i’ve forgotten more about football than you will ever know. I have lived it. I have played it at the highest level you can before before the NFL. Have you? No, you just try to talk like you did and think you know. You don’t. You have no f—-king clue. No, you are not alone, but you do lead the pack in ridiculous, laughable, idiotic comments that just shows anybody that has a clue about wins and losses just how clueless you really are.

        Unlike you, who continues to live and hold on to the past and glory days like they mean a f—cking thing. I’m in the belief that BK is not only doing a good job at ND but a tremendous job. Other than Saban there is not 1 coach I would trade him for.

        So you can keep going on and bashing BK with your meaningless comparisons between Lou Holtz back in the good old days. Your dear affection for the ole ball coach is oddly strange like a school girl smitten. I on the other hand will sit back and enjoy the continued success of the ND football program.

    • ndfaithful - Sep 25, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      Wow, well since you wrote:

      “But I really believe that Bryant is the best combination of size, strength, speed, ability to break tackles, elusiveness, and vision. ”

      Now I’m a believer. I’m glad to hear your affirmation and can’t imagine any reason to challenge your judgement over the exisitng RB crew.

      I’m really impressed with your ability to discern that from an incredible sense of self-belief and instincts. It’s a shame that BK hasn’t been able to realize this ‘truth’ after recruiting the young man, paying full time professionals to observe and coach the RB’s, and an on going multi-month evaluation and grading process. You should send a strongly worded letter to BK and Tony Alford and explain the clarity you have in your gut that Bryant would be a better choice.

      • bb90grad - Sep 25, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        Shooting all the other RBs in the knee with a scoped rifle (to maim, not kill) from the Library would be quicker, and send a stronger message.

    • runners00 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      I agree that we should see more of Greg Bryant. But Greg Bryant has to rise through the running back ranks for us to see him. Kelly wants the best players to play. Bryant does not differ from the other backs — Atkinson, McDaniel, Foster, etc. — except that most big-time football schools recruited him and he had a high recruiting status. Atkinson powers through holes. McDaniel breaks down linebackers. Carlisle has the strength to carry linemen and speed to break away from defenders. Each guy has the potential to lead the backfield.

      As the head coach, Kelly tries to sort it out. But he wants the best players to play. Perhaps the other guys have more of what Kelly needs right now. Perhaps Bryant needs a little more time before he regularly sees a lot of touches.

      The offensive line needs to break open some holes before any individual back dominates.

      • ibleedirish - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        “McDaniel breaks down linebackers”
        I love Cam, great effort. I’ve never seen this happen.

        “Carlisle has the strength to carry linemen and speed to break away from defenders”
        I think he might be able to, but again, I’ve not seen it. Temple doesn’t count.

        “Atkinson powers through holes”
        Hahahahahahaha! Ok, now you’ve gone completely off the reservation. This has NEVER occured in his time at Notre Dame. He has to his credit two lucky kick returns where all he did is run straight. He might as well have had a relay baton in his hand for all the moves he had to make and tackles he broke. He flat out sucks at RB. Ive seen overcooked noodles provide more “power”. Wtf!

    • runners00 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      Kelly wants to play the best players. Bryant has to compete for the starting job just like McDaniel, Carlisle, Atkinson and Folston compete for the job. If any of these backs offer something that Bryant lacks in comparison, Kelly will play the other back.

      I agree that Bryant received offers from all the big schools. I agree he played high school football in eighth grade and continued to do so through high school. At this level, though, he plays against guys who will play on Sundays next year. He may need another year — or he may need a little more time to learn the system.

      Regardless, Kelly plays the best players and he expects all of the players to compete for playing time. If Kelly plays another back besides Greg Bryant, that other back, likely, won the position.

    • chisports14 - Sep 25, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      except if Bryant goes in there and tommy rees gets hurt because his RB missed a block then kelly knows the season is over…

      • ibleedirish - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        Again, GAIII has missed more blocks than all the other backs combined this year. So, I need a different reason Bryant isn’t playing.

  3. rayguy14 - Sep 24, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    I think we all heard this past offseason that running back is a position that lends itself to early playing time. Why is it that freshman are playing all over the place except for running back? Robinson and Onwualu have gotten some decent PT and Will Fuller made a big play Saturday. Jaylon and Cole Luke have seen significant minutes at positions that typically take time for players to learn. I even saw Devin Butler get some solid PT at corner on Saturday.

    Why in the world are two of the most talented freshman in the country, let alone the roster, not getting anymore of a chance at a position where it’s relatively easy to break into early. As has been mentioned a time or two, it’s even more confusing when the guys in front of them aren’t doing anything more than playing solid football at best.

    The most frustrating thing about the Kelly era is his conservative approach to “manufacturing” victories. I get the whole, “A win’s a win” mentality. However, it seems as though we are underachieving/not maximizing or getting the most out of our talent. I think this is at the heart of why ND Nation seems dissatisfied, even with a 3-1 record, and coming off of a National Title game appearance.

    • onward2victory - Sep 25, 2013 at 2:46 AM

      Bingo!!

    • runners00 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      I disagree. The guys in front of Bryant and Folston play because right now Kelly thinks those guys offer the best chance for the team to win.

      As far as I can see, in the running game, the line lacks the ability to create the big holes for the running backs. We pass-block well but we miss run-block opportunities. Look at Alabama. They do not need great running backs to push through the massive holes created by their amazing offensive linemen. They need backs who can see the holes and exploit the holes. Perhaps the guys in front of Bryant and Folston see the holes better than Bryant and Folston.

    • ibleedirish - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      Because they can’t block…oh, wait, GAIII misses more blocks than he makes. So, thats not it.

      Because this offense is so sophisticated, the playbook is often confused with the textbook for particle physics. Literally in four years, apparently Tommy Friggin Rees is the only person that can master it. Wait, no, its the most bland offense this side of Michigan State, so thats not it either.

      Because GAIII and Cam hit that hole so damn hard, and are so productive there just isn’t a way to get them out of the game. Again, obviously no.

      I give up

      • ibleedirish - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:16 PM

        and by “give up” I mean of course that I’m going to continue to complain about it.

  4. ctfivula - Sep 24, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    Couldn’t agree more. Look at what Pitt is doing. They have a freshman running back and he is tearing it up. Man for man the Irish have better athletes and higher rated recruits at almost every position compared to Pitt. But the only difference is they use their talent instead of ushering them in for one snap a piece and then try running the ball with wide receiver recruits. I think Folston looked better than any other back on Saturday and he only had three or four carries. A rolled ankle or whatever may have hobbled him but why not try Bryant?

    • ndfaithful - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:12 PM

      As a Pittsburgh native and somebody that is bombarded by news about the program on local media, I can tell you that Pitt is playing their youth because they don’t have any choice. There’s just no depth to keep them off the field. It’s not a good thing. I’m quite sure that all 5 or 6 of ND’s backs would start at various positions if they had gone to Pitt.

      • ctfivula - Sep 25, 2013 at 8:58 AM

        I know being forced to use freshman is not what a program wants but the fact that they are doing it and having good results makes me wonder why ND can’t seem to find a groove in the running game.

      • ndfaithful - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:11 AM

        @cftivula:

        Right! because we all want to be more like Pitt!?
        Pitt has figured out a running game. But do you really think that the answer is as simple as just putting in the new kid that must be the worst in practice?

  5. ndgoldandblue - Sep 24, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    I know that this is off-topic, but the guys on the morning show at KFAN out of Minneapolis keep heaping praise on Harrison Smith. The Vikings are having a horrible year, but Smith is apparently the best defensive player they’ve got. To quote one of the hosts, “Harrison Smith is elite! He’s elite.” That’s high praise for a guy that had a shaky first two years at Notre Dame. Let’s give some of the younger guys, particularly the O-linemen, some time to develop.

    It’s pretty evident that this is, most likely, not the year we’ll look back on with a lot of satisfaction. Things would have to improve in many, many areas for this team to finish 10-2 and get to a BCS bowl (and not s&%# the bed when they get there). But BK talks about player development all the time. That’s one of the things he continues to preach to his players and the media. With his system and his coaches, the players get better as the year progresses. We saw that last year with Golson. Maybe it will happen this year. A guy can always hope.

    As for the Oklahoma game, I see two possible outcomes: 1) The Sooners completely outclass the Irish and win comfortably, a la the Michigan game, 2) Notre Dame wins, again, in extremely ugly fashion. People (I’m including myself in this) will complain about mind-boggling playcalls, a virtually non-existent running game, and horrible special teams, which prompts all of us to question how in the *bleep the team managed to win another game. For me, I’m hoping for the latter. It’s actually kind of fun supporting a team that wins so ugly.

    • runners00 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      I think you raise valid points but I would just say that a season in which we win nine or ten games is a successful one. I remember Charlie Weis. I remember Bob Davie and Ty Willingham. I will gladly take a nine-win season.

      We have to start to change how we think about football. I mean, in some years we will compete for a national title. In some years we will not. In all years we should strive to be a top 10 program. We should continue to watch once we reach the two loss mark.

      As for the prediction on Saturday, I say that the Irish will struggle against Oklahoma but with the home crowd and the improving defense, we make a big play in the second half and survive in a fashion that some will call ugly.

  6. ndfaithful - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Questions for you guys..

    We are all wondering if ND will ever look good this year, but what is there to back up OU’s #14 ranking? Does anybody here think they’re really good?

    So far, they have played LA-Monroe, West Virginia, and Tulsa. These aren’t exactly juggernauts. Granted, they LOOKED better than us against bad competition…

    OU’s opponents are 4w, 5L. and there opponents are bad too. They’re opponents make MSU and Purdue sound like world beaters. Does anybody know who these Sooners are yet?

    Last time I saw them, we schooled them and then Texas AM made them cry uncle.

    are they really scary?

    • ndfaithful - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:46 PM

      Honest, I know the difference between there, they’re, and their. Mom was an English teacher, but she never had to type on these damn touch keypads on a tablet…

    • ndgoldandblue - Sep 24, 2013 at 11:05 PM

      You bring up an interesting point, which is similar to something I mentioned last week. A couple times, Keith referenced MSU’s “#1 defense in college football” stat. I found that stat to be very misleading considering who the Spartans had played prior to last week. Sure, their defense was pretty decent, but the Irish missed out on quite a few opportunities last week. Plus, Notre Dame’s offense didn’t do much to baffle an already solid defense. Let’s just say that our O did their D a favor by not playing great football.

      Basically, the offense had their worst day of the year, and I’m not sure how much of that was MSU’s doing. I think we helped the situation by playing poorly on offense. But if Tommy was as good last week as he was in the second half of the Purdue game, we would have hung at least two more touchdowns on MSU. That would have squashed all this “#1 defense” talk.

      Besides MSU’s defense, there was quite a bit of talk about Connor Cook and the fact that he lit up Youngstown State. My response was, “So what?” Youngstown State is a middling FCS team. Cook’s true colors were shown against us: a not-awful, but below-average quarterback with an even worse offense surrounding him. This same idea applies to Oklahoma. They haven’t had to face a murderer’s row of opponents so far. To be fair, the Irish don’t look like world-beaters this year, but we still got past an MSU team that was pretty confident after starting 3-0. Maybe we can do the same to Oklahoma this week.

      I would say that we’ll know more about our team after this week, but I’m pretty sure everyone in ND Nation has our team figured out by now. We are who we currently think we are: a talented group of guys who need to figure out how to play like a team, and will either lose or win ugly until that happens. But, we will know if OU is legit after this week. After last week, we found out that MSU isn’t.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

        BK’s comments about Bell remind of Lou Holtz fawning over an upcoming opponent and portraying the opponent as the best team ever assembled. the only thing missing from such a Holtz-ism is for BK to then say “…and we’re just not a very good football team right now.” i think BK is afraid if he says something like this, the team might believe him.

  7. yaketyyacc - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:35 AM

    let’ take a page from stoops decision to be gutsy and put in bell, and look at the results. 607 yards of offense.
    we are about t be run out of our own stadium. make no mistake about this. Michgan got even, now Oklahoma wants its turn. so we whooped up on three hapless teams, and lost to a fair to middling team, big time. now, the adults are coming to Notre Dame in the form of Oklahoma.
    unfortunately the game will be as predictable as Kelly’s offensive calls. I know, I know, get off the board. does the truth hurt? I love Notre Dame. it sure hurts me.

    • ndfaithful - Sep 25, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      interesting… I hope you’re wrong. I won’t argue that play calling has been predictable. I wouldn’t even say we whopped three hapless teams. We only beat Temple in convincing fashion.

      But what part of Stoops’ decision was gutsy? The part where he promoted a new QB (Trevor Knight) and decided NOT go to with Bell – the obvious returning player? Or the part where it didn’t work and he went back to Bell?

      Sounds like a failed attempt at being gutsy to me, not a bold move that paid off…
      Besides, what are you saying? Do you think the Irish should start Trevor Knight? How about Bell? I’m not sure that’s an option. Are you suggesting that we put the mighty Andrew Hendrix in to start? Or how about the true Freshmen that had Mono all spring? Hey, if you want to get really bold, why not start Luke Massa? He looked really good in High School.

      Just what are you saying?

    • mayo1010 - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:19 AM

      Yak–don’t let the facts get in the way of your statement “let’ take a page from stoops decision to be gutsy and put in bell, and look at the results. 607 yards of offense”. He played because there starter got hurt! You guys really make me laugh. Other than a handful of bloggers here most are a joke and really have no clue about the game.

      • ndgoldandblue - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:46 AM

        Find another blog then.

  8. irishwilliamsport - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    I have no idea how good or bad ND is this season but I think we will find out Saturday. We lost to Michigan who should have lost to Akron and was nearly upset by UConn, go figure. Oklahoma has played cupcake games so far and one conference game against a terrible WV team.

    As for all the Greg Bryant talk, he just must not be ready to play yet, Kelly would sell his soul for a win and coaches at his level definately play the best players. It’s one thing to look the part and another to play the part.

  9. ndfan33 - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Interesting to hear Lou holtz comments yesterday that said something in regards to the running backs can’t ever get a feel and into rhythm when they are constantly getting yanked, plus the fact that every time they do get a carry they are trying to hit a home run and make a huge play he also went on to say if there was parity between an upperclassmen and a freshman, he would always plays the freshman or younger player. I think folston and Bryant at least deserve a chance during meaningful minutes. But it’s hard to get any rb’s reps when every third and 1 they are running with a play with empty backfield. Don’t get it.

    • mayo1010 - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      yep you don’t!

    • ndfaithful - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      This is where I completely agree with you about the problems with the RB’s and running game. I think there’s a lot to be said for giving a back a chance for longer stretches in the game. If I were the coach for a day (Saturday), here’s what I’d do with the RB’s:

      I’d put in an RB for at least an entire series at a time. Maybe I’d even stick with one guy for a full quarter at a time. I’d tell them relax, you don’t have to score on your one chance – just run the plays. I’m not yanking you after your token carry. When I got to the 4th quarter, I’d use the back that looked best all day. After a game or two, I’d have a starter and a go-to guy.

      I’d commit to running the ball. I don’t think this is really in BK’s DNA. I think he sees the running game as a way to surprise the defense, and as a way to run out the clock after you are leading. Yes, I’d run the ball on a lot more 3rd and 1, 3rd and 2, and even 3rd and 4’s. I’d also run POWER and the pistol a lot more.

      With all that said, BK has won a lot more division 1 games than me. I can’t recall a national championship game in my past either. I certainly respect him, even if I’d use a different style.

      I think we’d all like to see the 2005 Weis offense with the 2012 Te’o defense. Wouldn’t it be nice to see that come together?

      Just my $0.02

  10. ndcanuck - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    All this anaylsis of the RB corps is fun, but in the end it doesn’t matter unless the offensive line can push some people back and make some holes. They haven’t proven able to do that with any consistency thus far. Until that happens we’re not going to have much luck running (or passing either).

    Given that the odds are low that we can flat outscore the upper tier teams we’re facing over the next month, the defense is going to need to elevate their game significantly. They did look better last week, but it’s hard to tell what that objectively means because MSU was THAT bad.

  11. getsome99 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    If Greg Bryant is the real deal and if Kelly has been holding anything back, this week will be his breakout game. Pass protection is key and 5 star Freshmen should have that nailed down by week 5. OU has had 2 weeks to prepare for this game (seems all of our toughest opponents always do) so I would not be surprised if we see a completely different offense this week. Last year’s film won’t help Stoops since it was EG, Wood, and Te’o making the plays. Game film from this season should be rendered useless as well. If Kelly is not even mentioning Bryant and dropping subtle hints about (4) in the rotation instead of (5), it could be gamesmanship at play. Then again, it could just be Kelly trying to motivate Bryant to practice harder, execute fundamentals better, etc. One thing we do know, if Bryant give us the best shot to win, he will play Saturday. A lot.

  12. danirish - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    The University of Georgia started two rb’s last year – two. One the Irish wanted in Keith Marshall. Why can’t Notre Dame be like UGA?

    Well, UGA had NO CHOICE! Caleb King flunked out, one rb was kicked off the team for various reasons and the super stud Isiah Crowell decided to scratch off a serial number on a pistol and carry it around. My friend in Athens who’s kid goes to UGA had a class with Crowell and said he is as dumba s a rock

    UGA HAD to play these two freshman and they won the lottery.

    Notre Dame doesn’t have to play two freshman, we don’t know if GAIII, Amir or Cam are any good, the play calling stinks so bad that the opportunities weren’t there.

    Let’s play two freshman because by God, I saw all 5 of their carries againt Temple near the end of the game!

    Just win! GO IRISH!

  13. getsome99 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    We should tap the brakes some on the GAIII criticism. He definitely needs to improve his pass catching skills, but most of the negativity seems to be centered around not hitting the home run on every run and that he goes down too easily. Just keep in mind that he’s averaging over 5 yards per carry. Not exactly terrible.

  14. nudeman - Sep 25, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Here’s what I see heading into OK week:

    1. A poor defense. Some got excited because they held MSU to 13 points. MSU has the 104th ranked offense in the country (OK is 24).

    2. Despite some very good skill players, a very poor offense.

    3. LOTS of excuses by the Irish faithful.
    3a. Against Temple, they were holding things back for Michigan
    3b. Against Michigan they were actually the better team, but got screwed by bad PI calls
    3c. Against Purdue, they just weren’t “up”, and so decided to tank the 1st half.
    3d. Against MSU, they ran into a stout defense
    3e. Against MSU, Tommy’s overthrows were the result of the wind.
    3f. No wait, against MSU the overthrows were the result of Tommy not wanting to get intercepted.
    3g. No wait … no, YOU wait. Never mind

    4. Terrible ILBs. I don’t want to hear another word about “Carlo’s best ever game” against MSU.
    He’s below average on a good day and can’t cover me and my prosthetic hip.

    5. Zero running game. 99th in the nation.

    6. Zero pass rush. Grand total of 3 sacks this year. Tied for 114th in the country.

    7. Questionable coaching, specifically in areas of developing a QB, punt returns and the play calling. Next time I see Tommy Rees roll out and throw a long pass on 3rd and 1 or TJ Jones running around under a punt like he’s blind, my flat screen is going out on Dearborn St.

    EIGHT) Aside from Tommy’s preposterous sideline pep rally against Purdue, ZERO emotion or leadership on either side of the ball. None. Coaches fault, or players fault? You decide.

    9. A handful of players playing key roles who just can’t play. Carol, Fox, Farley, GAIII, and Ishaq who can officially be described as a colossal bust. I’m also not too sure about Russell, whose comeback game vs. MSU was against a lousy set of WRs and QB.

    I almost NEVER predict a loss.
    Even when ND was getting ready to play Bama, I thought “well, I can see them winning”.

    But I can’t see ND beating Oklahoma. Just can’t.
    And based on what I’ve seen so far, it could get ugly. Like 27-7 ugly,

    Hope I’m dead wrong.

    • bb90grad - Sep 25, 2013 at 12:24 PM

      Nude, noticed you spelled out EIGHT in cap; was that on purpose? Possibly the biggest missing ingredient and the toughest to achieve.

      Players have skills & talent, coaches have experience & solid plays. What’s missing is between the ears (both kids and coaches).

      The old phrase is fire in the belly, but it’s really between the ears.

      • nudeman - Sep 25, 2013 at 12:40 PM

        Because when you put 8 followed by a period, colon or parentheses, you get that damn smiley face
        Like this: 8)

    • ndfaithful - Sep 25, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      I agree with you on just about everything there…

      I think you’re a little harsh about the pass rush. I wouldn’t call it a zero. They haven’t totaled many sacks, but I haven’t seen an opposing quarterback standing around back there with much time to throw.

      I think the excuses that we’ve been holding back our real offense, personnel, etc. are rediculous. The facts all show that we just haven’t played very well for a full 60 minutes yet.

      Before the season started, I saw this game and the Stanford game circled as very difficult games and probable losses. I think the only hope is in the opportunity we all have – to get better every day. Here’s hoping it clicks and they take a quantum leap forward this week. Or – that OU is another pretender too…

    • viktory2013 - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:11 PM

      Pretty much sums it up. I would gladly trade Calabrese and Fox for pigs and chickens. All they do is trail and chase. The secondary is slow to react and timid; the line is tentative. There’s a listlessness and lack of focus on both sides of the ball which I think causes Kelly’s red faced tirades with increasing frequency. The play calling is hamstrung by Rees lack of ability and I would bet the audibles he calls on virtually every play are probably unnecessary, he just likes playing Aaron Rodgers. In fact, Kelly mentioned at halftime of the Purdue game of having to tell Rees to quit checking out of run formation. What beat Oklahoma last year was Golson’s mobility and arm, something Stoops doesn’t even have to consider this year. It doesn’t matter what plays you call from the sideline if you don’t have the horses. If Kelly goes in with the same mindset as with MSU or Purdue, the game is hopeless, as is Stanford, ASU and SC. He needs to shake things up now and not after a couple of losses.

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