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Mailbag! (Angry villagers and ASU edition)

Oct 3, 2013, 4:52 PM EDT

DaVaris Daniels, Ricardo Allen AP

Without further ado, this week’s mailbag.

rossumnminor: Keith is this a second chance and sort of a good thing that OU and ASU are very similar across the board? I.e. another week of similar preparation?

Let’s start this off with a football question. Well done, Rossumn! If you’re looking to actually think about Xs and Os and not complain about playcalling, effort, the alma mater, and all the other garbage that bubbles to the top after a two-loss month, this is a great place to start.

There are a ton of similarities between ASU and OU, though I’d give the edge personnel wise to Oklahoma, though Taylor Kelly might be the best quarterback Notre Dame faces all season. That said, both defenses are built around pressure schemes and work from a 3-3-5, and Notre Dame will once again be seeing a lot of man coverage.

(Speaking of that…)

dudeacow: What happened to Daniels? After a phenomenal start he had a horrendous day vs MSU and was a no-show vs the Sooners. Same thing with Niklas. Where has our receiving corps gone?

It’s times like these where we’re reminded that Daniels is still a relative newbie out there, even though he’s in his third year of the program. There’s no doubt the talent is there to be a productive college wide receiver. But Brian Kelly was candid in his assessment of Daniels, who disappeared at times against both Michigan State and Oklahoma, when he said Daniels needed to do the ordinary things better.

As for Niklas, don’t expect to see numbers like the ones Tyler Eifert put up. Niklas is a valuable cog in the Irish blocking scheme, and while Ben Koyack played a much better game last week, Niklas is too big of a body to not spend a good portion of his time blocking in the running game.

blackirish23: Job vacancies at places such as USC always has a domino effect. Any predictions where some of those dominos may fall, and will some of those pieces be from our coaching staff? I.E. Have you started hearing any rumors?

I am curious to see if Mack Brown survives the season at Texas. Deloss Dodds announcing his retirement makes you wonder if he’ll make one last big decision before saying goodbye. But unlike last year, I don’t think anybody’s star is on the rise like it was for Bob Diaco or Chuck Martin.

Could UConn target a guy like Bob Diaco? Maybe. They terminated Paul Pasqualoni in the wake of Kiffin’s firing. Diaco is a native of the northeast, is a young and charismatic guy (as opposed to Pasqualoni, who was a head-scratching hire), so who knows?

But I have a feeling the Irish will be working with the same staff in ’14 as they are this season.

jerseyirish10: Keith, with your recent article, including the analysis, of the empty set with Tommy Rees, why is BK continuing to use this formation? Clearly, Golson had/has the tools to extend those plays because of the threat to run or pass. As the head coach and OC, why aren’t he and Martin tossing this out and sticking to what Tommy can do? Combined with a stronger conviction to the running game, wouldn’t that provide the more balanced offense and focus on everyone’s strengths?

I feel like I answered this question yesterday. I don’t necessarily think the no-back formation should be thrown in the dumpster, but it certainly shouldn’t be one of the Irish’s most utilized formations.

ndlv: I know that Jaylon Smith is a little bit small, but he has the talent to play any of the LB positions. Why not move him inside and replace him on the outside with a safety like Shumate or Redfield (as they used to do with Slaughter)? This would get more speed and talent on the field. Grace, Fox, and Carlo may have the size for the middle, but they clearly don’t have the speed.

On paper, a move like this makes sense. And perhaps it could be a spring adjustment, because life after Louis Nix could be downright scary at the nose tackle position. But just assuming a linebacker like Smith can succeed inside and a safety has the tools to play outside linebacker is risky business. The last time Notre Dame tried something like that, converted running back Travis Thomas tried to play on the edge of the defense at 220-pounds, and Jon Tenuta’s boys looked like a roller derby team out there.

Getting speed on the field makes sense, especially against spread teams that move quickly. But you don’t hear fans calling for Stanford to swap out their big bodies and stout front line because they can’t run as fast as other defenses. Playing the scheme correctly — like Notre Dame did last year — is a big part of the formula.

a. papadec: Will the pessimistic fans ever shut up?
b. dickasman: Will the optimistic fans (shut up)?
c. c4evr: Will all the level headed, logic driven, reasonable people ever contribute?

a. Of course they won’t. You’ve got to blame somebody.
b. I wouldn’t expect it. You’ve got to have faith.
c. Please don’t leave us. It’s already so lonely.

chadwalters425: Why do you think Notre Dame’s fans are quick to sell their tickets against big game opponents (like Oklahoma this year or Nebraska in 2000) while other schools show solidarity and don’t appear to sell tickets to opposing fans in similar games (see SEC or UGA @ Clemson) in significant numbers? Or am I just biased?

You are biased. Unless you watch a whole lot more football than I do, and keep your eye on StubHub or the secondary ticket market on a daily basis, this seems to be one of those prime examples of Notre Dame fans only griping about what’s in front of them.

You realize that Nebraska game was 13 years ago? Wide receiver Corey Robinson was five years old then. That Oklahoma fans paid dearly to buy tickets in the corner of the upper bowl doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen anywhere else. (And opponents do get an allotment of tickets to purchase. It would’ve been different if the Crimson was scattered all around the stadium.)

I spent an entire football season on the road in ’08, going to the biggest games of the year all around the country. Every place I went, I saw a large showing from the visiting team. At a place that was treated like the Cathedral of college football for traditionally proud groups like Nebraska and Oklahoma, you have to expect that to happen when come play Notre Dame.

No team had a higher per-ticket price than Notre Dame this season. That’s certainly not driven by just the opposition.

jerseyshorendfan1Do all the idiotic questions here jeopardize the continuation of the mailbag feature?

No way. I kind of like this feature.

upthera44: Is there any update on Greg Bryant’s supposed knee injury?

There probably will be one tonight when Kelly talks with the media. I would hate to think the vigil would be over come October.

nudeman: Why does Brian Kelly perpetrate the myth that “if he turns the ball over, he won’t play”, then keep playing Tommy Rees?

In defense of Rees, this hasn’t been happening on a continuous basis, though I did say that last Saturday was probably the worst game of Rees’ career since the USC game his freshman season. And if you thought Andrew Hendrix looked comfortable back in the pocket running the Irish offense, you saw something different than I did.

I’m working on some things for the Pregame Six Pack that digs a little bit deeper into Rees’s struggles.

@NDEddieMac: Why do ND fans always whine about inconsequential (stuff) during football season?

To make themselves feel better?

Everybody can sound intelligent when they talk about ambiguous things like tradition or making sure the team stays on the field to sing the alma mater. (By far the dumbest “tradition” that’s really not a tradition at all, in my opinion.) But not everybody can talk about the challenges of facing press coverage or linebackers making proper run fits. So it’s just more fun to sound like the old guy that walked uphill to school both ways.

Now get off my lawn!

chadwalters425: Do you think Todd Graham is just renting his place in Arizona and can get out of his lease to go to Los Angeles in the next four months?

I got a good laugh out of this one… Could you imagine?

  1. ndgoldandblue - Oct 3, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Just for conversation’s sake, I have a question for the Irish historians that frequent this blog. Who do you think is the most overrated coach in Notre Dame history? Contrastingly, who is the most underrated coach in ND history? And please don’t say BK for either of these. The jury’s still out on the guy. Plus, the sample size is a bit small.

    • ndnphx - Oct 3, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      Over-rated: easily Dan Devine. His National Championship team ran itself. I covered the team for one of the local media outlets then.

      Under-rated: Hmm. I think you have to go back to Elmer Layden. But I don’t go back to Elmer Layden…

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:44 PM

      I’d agee with Devine in the over-rated category, but under-rated is a bit tougher…

      Maybe Bob Davie? I realize that his 35-25 record wasn’t up to ND standards, but you also have to consider other factors…
      1997 (7-6) with 4 losses to top 15 teams, plus losses to USC and Drew Brees and he lost three staring linemen to the draft

      1998 (9-3)
      1999 (5-7) five losses to ranked opponents and only one of those seven losses was by more than a TD
      2000 (9-3) with losses to #1 Nebraska, #23 Mich St and #5 Oregon State
      2001 (5-6) lost 9 starters to the NFL and had a #1 QB named Matt Lovechio

      ….on a side note, looking back at these seasons, ND played some really tough schedules…Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, LSU, Georgia Tech….along with the usual suspects.

      • ndgoldandblue - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:50 AM

        I guess I was thinking the same thing about Davie. I know that we think the Irish have had to run the gauntlet the last couple of seasons, but Davie’s teams didn’t have it easy. I’m not saying he was a good coach, but he was probably better than most people think he was. Being the guy immediately after such a beloved coach like Holtz didn’t help.

  2. dickasman - Oct 3, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Good job Keith. As of today I put myself back on cymbalta so I will be stfuing myself for while .

    • papadec - Oct 3, 2013 at 9:05 PM

      Good move Dick – I’m proud of you.

  3. NotreDan - Oct 3, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    You’re right Keith, every comment and question and story line that either A) questions the company line or B) dares think that intangibles play any role in wins and losses is just “garbage”.

    Excellent assessment.

    • NotreDan - Oct 3, 2013 at 7:24 PM

      Coaching and playcalling SUCK for the personnel ND has on the field. Blogs that try to pretend otherwise are garbage.

      • dmacirish - Oct 3, 2013 at 8:22 PM

        surprised you haven’t given yourself a thumbs up for that one yet.

      • nudeman - Oct 3, 2013 at 8:37 PM

        DMac = self absorbed punchbowl turd
        Always on somebody’s ass

      • dmacirish - Oct 3, 2013 at 9:22 PM

        ironic nude – are you saying that it is annoying having someone sitting behind a keyboard always judging people and telling them they suck?

      • nudeman - Oct 3, 2013 at 9:59 PM

        I’m just saying that you’re a dick

      • bernhtp - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:04 AM

        This looks like it might rise to the cerebral level of the Goat-Nude squabbles.

      • nudeman - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        Nothing will ever replace the Goat/Nude matchups
        That was Ali/Frazier. Louis/Schmelling.
        Epic struggles that went well into the night, with both of us stopping only to urinate

        Nude/dmac is Ali/Henry Cooper.

      • dmacirish - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:20 PM

        dont sell yourself short nude – i would put you a little above henry cooper.

  4. mtflsmitty - Oct 3, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Keith, with the exception of your mother’s contributions last week, this may be the finest (most clear, pointed, unapologetic) writing from anyone with the last name Arnold on this site in a long time. Your stuff is always good (some better then others), but I really enjoyed your thoughts here. Thanks.

  5. nudeman - Oct 3, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    I would just like to get my Good/Bad/Ugly for this weekend’s game out of the way right now:

    Only 6 games left in Tommy Rees’ ND career

    Still 6 games left in the Rees’ ND career

    Tommy Rees’ play against ASU

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      Give it a fuckin rest already….nobody here wonders what your opinion of Tommy Rees is. The guy shit the bed, get over it!

  6. nudeman - Oct 3, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    Keith, re: your work on the pre-game 6 pack that delves more deeply into Rees, please do NOT say anything like:

    1) how smart he is,
    2) how much football acumen he has,
    3) how he always checks us into the right plays
    4) how he’s a great play/action QB

    Please … begging you

    • irish4006 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      You forgot the “most accurate passer in ND history” or the “win-loss record”, both of which are kind of losing their luster a bit lately.

  7. 4horsemenrideagain - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    so a nice moment of solidarity between the football team and the students/fans is “dumb” and not even a real tradition? whoa.

    if you don’t like singing the song keith, just don’t sing it, why the need to bag on it? and just how many years does something have to exist before it qualifies as a tradition? is there an age requirement? does the horns section playing in the admin. building on friday evenings before band practice qualify? if not, is it because it’s also just a dumb non-tradition?

    i get it that you want to stick to football and leave the other non-issues aside. fine. it’s your column. then again, to many people things that go on outside the 60 minutes of the game (piped in music, field turf, jumbotron, and to a much, much lesser extent uniforms) are still worthy of discussion.

  8. getsome99 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    My friends from OU thought the players singing the alma mater with the students was one of the coolest things they had seen at a college game. And we stole their slogan. Just saying.

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      i’ve never seen or heard of any other team doing it. besides being an unapologetic sentimentalist, i like it because it’s something that is unique to ND.

  9. getsome99 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    It’s a pretty awesome experience if you’ve ever been right there when it happens. The fact that the fans/students stayed 20 minutes after a loss was also something that impressed our visitors from Oklahoma. Makes you proud to be a domer. According to them, most if the students are drunk and gone by the end of the 3rd qtr.

  10. danirish - Oct 4, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    “a. papadec: Will the pessimistic fans ever shut up?
    c. c4evr: Will all the level headed, logic driven, reasonable people ever contribute?”

    What the is the above all about? Do we fans not have pretty good reasons to be pessimistic right now? Yes! Level headed, logic driven, reasonable people contribute all the time and are the MAJORITY!

    Try hanging with SEC fans. I graduated from UGA and try to go to a few games a year (during ND’s bye week) and no matter what when UGA messes up its “Fire Richt gosh darnit!” (last part a little different) I tire of being a fan and giving my opinion, positive or negative, and someone says I’m not a true fan. Huh? Level headed?
    Tommy Rees/ND offense has sucked with an empty backfield especially going deep on SEVERAL 3rd and shorts.
    Come Danirish, you need to be more logic driven and level headed!
    I think most on here have the pulse of this team down pat. Sure dickasman tries really hard to be funny and he is for the most part but everyone else has pretty good input.
    A lot called for Bryant, I mentioned that perhaps he had grade issues or something we didn’t know about, now we hear he has a bum knee and will sit out a year – does that make the “play Bryant now!” fans not level-headed? Does that make me right? NO, we didn’t have information – no big deal.

    As a football fan, I see an ugly loss coming, a shame seeing that the Shamrock series we are undefeated

    As an Irish fan all I’ll say is (positive or negative)

  11. fnc111 - Oct 4, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    That’s the weirdest statement I’ve ever read. It reads like this. Tommy is better at turning the ball over than others.

    Tommy has like 40 turnovers since arriving on campus and you say he hasn’t been doing it that much? His nickname is turnover machine.

    Amazes me that in four years Kelly couldn’t recruit a friggin QB that actually gives his team a shot at winning.

    • danirish - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:21 PM

      If you want to talk about Kelly’s strange love affair with Rees then we can talk all day but knock off the stupidity that Kelly can’t recruit qb’s.

      Golsen, Zaire, Kizer – all Elite 11 and they will actually fit his system. If Golsen doesn’t screw up (bad life choice) then this year is different.

      Your third sentence is ridiculous,

  12. fnc111 - Oct 4, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Look at the teams “Tommy” beat. Maryland, Air Force, Navy, MSU, Temple, and Tulsa… Oh wait oops.

    • nudeman - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:31 PM


  13. hildezero - Oct 5, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    XD There’s no way that Todd Graham leaves ASU to California to coach USC.

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