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The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Air Force

Oct 27, 2013, 5:11 PM EDT

Notre Dame v Air Force Getty Images

For much of the season, Notre Dame hasn’t done a great job playing as a favorite. That changed Saturday afternoon, as the Irish shrugged off Air Force’s opening score and proceeded to roll through an overmatched Falcons team.

The Irish scored 45 points, the most since last season’s opener against Navy. They racked up 466 yards, even with the No. 1 offense gone by the start of the fourth quarter. Steve Elmer’s false start on the game’s opening drive was the only penalty against Notre Dame. All in all, it was a very clean performance for Brian Kelly’s team, a group that looks to be coming together as they head into November.

The victory pushed Notre Dame back into the Coaches Poll at No. 25, though they are still unranked by the AP, even though they’ve beaten both Michigan State and Arizona State, the two teams standing between the Irish and Michigan.

With a month left in the season, there’s still plenty of football to play. So let’s take a look at the good, bad and ugly during Notre Dame’s 45-10 victory over Air Force.

THE GOOD

Tommy Rees. It was a heckuva day for the senior quarterback who threw as many touchdown passes as incompletions. Here are a few fun facts produced by Notre Dame’s Sports Information department to help put into context the afternoon Rees had.

* Most touchdown passes in a game since Jimmy Clausen threw five against Stanford in ’09.
* Efficiency Rating of 260.71, the best for an Irish quarterback since Clausen vs. Nevada in ’09.
* First time in school history that five different players had a TD catch in same game.
* Rees’ efficiency rating was the fifth best game of any college quarterback this season against an FBS team.
* Only six quarterbacks in the country have thrown more TDs than Rees.

Games like this one often times serve the purpose of inflating stats, but you still need to give Rees credit for taking advantage of it. Probably more important than anything, outside of one bad throw against Arizona State, Rees has been very accurate with balls thrown into coverage since a mid-season slump, and that showed yesterday.

Young Receivers. It was great to see Will Fuller, Corey Robinson and Chris Brown get in on the action this weekend, with all three making big plays. Robinson’s touchdown looked like something out of a spring practice video on UND.com.

Fuller’s two big catches showed us the speed that Brian Kelly has talked about since the moment the Philadelphia native stepped onto campus. When asked about Fuller, Kelly was complimentary about the young receiver.

“Elite speed. And he will come down with the football,” Kelly said. “We really like the way he tracks the ball.”

Probably the best touchdown of the afternoon came on Rees’ back-shoulder throw to Brown, a perfectly placed ball that was also a nice catch by the sophomore. After disappearing a bit these past few weeks, building some confidence for Brown as the Irish prepare to head into the season’s final month will be key.

Jaylon Smith. Smith led the Irish in tackles again and nearly had himself a defensive touchdown. The freshman outside linebacker is turning himself into one of the Irish’s best playmakers and his football IQ is growing by the day.

To start the game, it looked like Smith was struggling with the option. When asked about the early success Air Force had running at Smith, Kelly talked about the schematic challenges that contributed to those problems.

“We were in some coverages that really put him as the only player on the perimeter. We didn’t help him very much,” Kelly said.

“We had to make some changes. He battled, he played well. He’s just a tough, physical kid. It was just a matter of time to give him some support.”

Cornerbacks. Kerry Cooks’ cornerbacks had a nice performance on Saturday afternoon. Asked to roll up into the box on the field side, KeiVarae Russell, Cole Luke, Lo Wood, Bennett Jackson and Devin Butler combined to make 22 tackles, with Russell and Luke leading the way with six each.

“They were a huge difference in the game on Saturday. They were physical. They whipped the blockers,” Kelly said Sunday. “We didn’t get a whole lot more out of our inside-out pursuits, so our corners were having to whip blockers on the perimeter, and they did a very, very good job.”

Tarean Folston. It was nice to see the freshman running back step forward in the running game, positioning himself to take more and more carries in a crowded backfield that’s starting to sort itself out.

Kelly talked about that progress on Saturday after watching the game film.

“We think he’s making nice progress.,” Kelly said. “He’s trying to take reps away from George Atkinson, who’s been in the program for three years; Amir Carlisle, who played at USC as a freshman and transferred in with very good ball skills; and Cam McDaniel, who’s been a tough, physical runner for us.

“You’ve got to be really good to take reps away from each one of those guys, but he’s done that. He ran the ball well and effectively, and he continues to get better each and every week.”

TJ Jones. Another Saturday, another touchdown for Jones, who went over 100-yards for the third time this season. He’s now scored a touchdown in five consecutive games, just three behind the record by Jeff Samardzija and Golden Tate.

Ben Koyack. Don’t look now, but the Irish are developing the type of tight end depth many hoped to see this year. Koyack caught two passes, including a 22-yard touchdown, his second TD of the season.

“We think Ben Koyack is a guy that we wanted to get more playing time for,” Kelly said. “We thought we could get some particular matchups that we could get with Ben on the field that we like.”

Nice Kick, Kyle Brindza. 

THE BAD

Running Game Struggles. The Irish didn’t have the best game running the football, averaging just 3.6 yards a carry on Saturday. Kelly attributed some of that to Air Force stacking the box, but also to some struggles blocking the nose guard in the 3-4 system.

That forced the Irish to run some plays outside of their usual inside-outside zone blocking scheme, springing Cam McDaniel and Folston with some gap and pull techniques. Kelly talked a little bit more about the need to be versatile on the offensive line.

“I think we’ve got to just keep changing them up,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to run zone schemes. We’ve got to run gap schemes. We need to do a better job of mixing those up.”

Blocked Field Goal & Slow Start. This is the sixth game that the Irish have allowed their opponents to score first. While the Irish have come back to win four of those games, starting fast has still been a challenge for this group.

Also frustrating was the block of Kyle Brindza’s field goal. Troy Calhoun’s teams have been very good at getting to kicks, but this type of thing can be a game-changer, and the Irish need to tighten that up.

A knee injury to Ishaq Williams. The junior outside linebacker started the game at defensive end, but was lost early with a knee injury. In his Sunday check in with the media, Kelly would only say that Williams is doubtful for this Saturday against Navy.

THE UGLY

Other than the fact that the TV broadcast looked like it was from 1992, there’s nothing much to complain about after the Irish victory, Notre Dame’s 26th in the last 30 games.

  1. flandersst1 - Oct 27, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Hard to understand how Arizona State could be ranked ahead of Notre Dame. Good game, go Irish!

    • onward2victory - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:23 AM

      Voters love offense I guess…

    • mayo1010 - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      In regards to Mich St. and Ariz St. being ahead of ND in the polls. I can see Mich St. where they only have 1 loss to date. Don’t agree with it but I can understand it. What is totally ridiculous is Ariz St. being ahead of them. Ariz St. is 5-2 and ND throughly outplayed them on a neutral field. Score ended up being 37-34 due to garbage time TD at the end and anybody who watched the game could see ND was clearly the better team. What’s even more puzzling to me is Ariz St. should be 5-3 due to the admitted botched call at the end of the game vs Wisconsin. IMO, any body that voted Ariz St. ahead of ND should have their voting privileges taken away. Very irresponsible!!!

    • alsatiannd - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      It’s a snub. Our no-show in the championship last year is probably a factor. They couldn’t not vote for us last year because we didn’t lose, no matter how much they hated doing it. Now that we have some losses hung on us, they’ll be damned if they give us the benefit of the doubt this year.

      Good. Just win out then.

  2. dickasman - Oct 27, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    We did what we were supposed to do. Nothing bad really. Nice to see freshman WR n RB gettin more involved.
    Man this is kinda lame no drama. I really wish we could only play 1 armed forces team/ yr.

  3. jmfinsd - Oct 27, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    Something has got to be done in football about cut blocks. Take a look at the number of opposing players that go out of each game and miss future games with leg injuries due to cut blocking schemes. It’s legal, it’s not dirty play, but it doesn’t make it right. Injuries are part of the game, but I suspect there is a disproportionate number of leg injuries sustained by teams that play against triple option teams.

    (Go ahead with thumbs down for the perceived slight to our service men and women because this post follows a game against Air Force and AF, Navy & Army are the most notable triple option teams. But let me be clear that it is not the point of this post to disparage any service academy or member of their team. I have nothing but respect for the service academies and their players for the dedication and service to country.)

  4. mtflsmitty - Oct 27, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    Well, Nude, there’s your answer on #11.

    • nudeman - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:42 PM

      Perspective is a wonderful thing to keep us all grounded.
      AF is ranked 107 out of 123 in pass D, gents.

      Looking at the other opponents this year so far:
      Temple – 119; UM – 97; Purdue – 25;
      MSU – 3; OK – 9; USC – 30; ASU – 22;
      Navy – 21; Pitt – 44; BYU – 73; Stanford – 90.
      ND, for perspective is #46

      He’s played well against a highly rated team (USC) and poorly against a low rated team (UM).
      So the data is all over the map.
      College team stats tend to be that way because there is so much variety in the competition, so I don’t know how much one can make of this.
      But the highest rated pass D team left is Navy, and for God sake they should win even if Rees has a bad game.

      I’d never have guessed Stanford is rated so low. So maybe, just maybe …

      • dmac4real - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:10 PM

        I think he meant Ishaq not showing up in the game…

      • nudeman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:16 PM

        The low Stanford ranking got me wondering if there’s more to it.
        They’re ranked 13 against the run. That’s pretty stout. Just about the 90th percentile.

        Is it possible that the yards teams have piled up on them through the air have been garbage time?

        If someone wants to take that project on, feel free. My work here is finished

  5. ndirish32 - Oct 27, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    The reason ND can’t run the ball is the scheme. Handing the ball after a shotgun snap to a guy who is standing flat footed and then asking him to outrun the pursuit of defenders sprinting at top speed does not work at the D 1 level, even against a service academy. What does AF average across the D Line? 250 tops? How about jumping in the I formation and pounding it down their throat? “Our linemen are better than your linemen.” But when you play that type of scheme, you cancel out the advantage of larger, stronger linemen because the front 7 defenders who are smaller and quicker are allowed to sprint to the football. This scheme is playing into the defenses’ strengths.

    • flandersst1 - Oct 27, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      We did score 45 … it’s not like the offense struggled. Seems like the scheme worked pretty well.

      • ndirish32 - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:17 PM

        I said the reason they can’t RUN THE BALL is the scheme. It’s an embarassment for ND to rush for less than 200 yards against a team like that, let alone average 3.6 yards per carry.

      • flandersst1 - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:13 PM

        There is nothing embarrassing about scoring 45 points on the road against an FBS team. Good offenses take what the defense gives them.
        “If you always take what the defense gives you, eventually they will give you the game.” – Nick Saban

    • mtflsmitty - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:30 PM

      The formation you describe as being ineffective at the D1 level is part of the much heralded pistol offense originally devised by Chris Ault at Nevada. He ran it most successfully with Colin Kaepernick.

      KA can confirm if he’s so inclined, but i believe CBK and CCM visited Ault about 12 months ago…or Ault visited ND.

      Far be it from me to question the great offensive mind that is ndirish32, but I’m going to stick with guys who are actual coaches at ND, not a guy who may or may not have slept at Holiday Inn last night.

      About 18 months ago, Keith shared the following website with the readership here. Great articles about strategies and tactics on both sides of the ball. You may want to give it a try.

      http://smartfootball.com/

      • ndirish32 - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:19 PM

        Did I mention the pistol? No, it’s basically a variation of the I formation I mentioned. I’m talking about when they’re in the SHOTGUN, which is the formation I mentioned.

      • mtflsmitty - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:36 PM

        That is pistol. Shotgun with a single RB directly behind the QB, usually 2 yards.

      • mtflsmitty - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:44 PM

        From an article at smartfootball.com

        The entire premise of Ault’s pistol attack is to combine the best of the shotgun spread offenses, like Chip Kelly’s attack at Oregon , with the traditional, north-south power attack Ault had coached for more than 20 years. The Pistol alignment is merely the means by which to do it; the “Pistol Offense” is this blend of old and new.
        – See more at: http://smartfootball.com/offense/sbnation-longform-rg3-kaepernick-and-the-emergence-of-chris-aults-pistol-offense-into-the-nfl#sthash.S7l5FI88.dpuf

      • nudeman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:21 PM

        Best as I can tell, the single advantage the Pistol offers is that the RB is directly behind the QB which allegedly – disguises any directional tendency.

        Big effing yawn there.

        Like anything else, if you got the right personnel, the Pistol is wonderful.
        And it probably helps to have a QB who can run a little.

        Moving on …

      • knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:44 PM

        Despite my limited powers of observation, even I can observe something that I have been waiting to bring up and see discussed here… It’s this. I think that ball handling in terms of faking a handoff or disguising the flow of a play by the quarterback’s ball handling is a lost art in football these days. I watch Notre Dame’s handoffs and its as if the play actions relative to putting the ball even close to the back’s middle section are acted out like the shortstop or second baseman in baseball making the force out at second in a doubleplay. It’s nonexistent. I’d like to see ND put a premium on faking and ball handling. I watched a the Cal game against Ohio State, and Cal did a nice job of faking with the ball of the kind that causes the camera to follow the wrong back. And too often a quarterback or a back seldomly carry out the fake like the old days where defenses would be so convinced by the play fake that one, two or three defenders would pursue and even tackle the wrong player.

      • ndirish32 - Oct 28, 2013 at 8:43 PM

        mtflsmitty – The pistol and the shotgun are 2 different formations. Again I find myself wishing people had to pass a basic test on football terminology and strategy before being allowed to post. Get a clue.

  6. dudeacow - Oct 27, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    Don’t you love how FIDM’S shortest highlight video of the season was on a game that had the most highlights of the season and also a game that a lot of us couldn’t watch? Seriously, the MSU highlight video was twice as long as this one and that game was boring!

  7. irishaggie - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    * I actually thought the game quality was great. I have DirecTV and a new Vizio my quality was very good. I do feel bad though for for those who don’t get CBSN. I think in Idaho we get it by default because most of the Mountain West games are on that channel.

    One thing i have kept a close eye on is our opening drives. We have received the opening kick in 7 of 8 games and have only scored once, and that was against Temple.

    Amir buddy you are starting to be on the forgotten list, and it doesn’t help that you’re dropping the punts. fyi

  8. knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    In his last six seasons as head coach, BK’s record is 20-2 in the month of November. Kelly is 10-1 in the final month of the season in his first three seasons at ND. Thank you Coach Longo. BK’s line at his press conference following the Air Force game: “October is for pretenders and November is for contenders. We try to ingrain that within our players’ and coaches’ minds.”

    Let’s pray for Stanford to beat Oregon big time. That would tee the ball up very nicely for ND when we move to the last hole of the regular season.

    I’d rest Sheldon Day and Louis Nix against Navy. They’re still nursing injuries and you need them to be 100% against BYU and Stanford. When Day is out on the field, the difference in ND’s stats in defending against the run is …. well, … like night and Day. Don’t waste these two on Navy or Pitt.
    Per Kelly at his press conference, Ishaq Williams suffered an injury early in the game against Air Force, which explains his lack of production. Watt is probable against Navy. After he left and was replaced by Hanratty, I believe TR was sacked on the next play.

    As far as poll rankings, the results of this week’s polling leads me to suspect that ND is now running up against a mindset that ND was very lucky last year and, for more than few poll voters, earned plaudits in 2012 that greatly exaggerated ND’s prowess as a football team. The shellacking ND took from Alabama in the NCG cemented that notion into place in a lot of minds. Now, everyone’s waiting to be more than just convinced by wins that ND is deserving of a higher ranking. It seems (again just thinking out loud with you all) that winning ugly or by one touchdown as we did earlier this season (and as ND did the same most of last year) won’t get ND into a BCS bowl. We have to repeat the Air Force game and start doing our own shellacking.

    Best way to answer your critics as player is on the field. Congrats TR. Hope the banged up O-line won’t be an issue as far as pass protection goes for the rest of the season. And I’ll add the same congrats to CM.

    • nudeman - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:43 PM

      good points, getsome

      • knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:49 PM

        Thanks IrishPuma.

    • irish4006 - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:41 PM

      Who gives a flying monkey’s a$$ what the ranking is now? I am willing to bet any amount of money that ND will play in a BCS bowl if we win out, regardless of what other teams (including Stanford) do on the field; and rightfully so. Are you going to take the other side of the bet?

      It’s even possible ND will play Alabama, IF Oregon and FSU win out and Bama loses one – to either LSU or the SEC championship.

      I will, however, only start speculating if we are a convincing 9-2, firing on all cylinders, heading into Palo Alto; not after a thrashing of a 1-6 team.

  9. upthera44 - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Wow the new injuries are racking up:

    Nix
    Day
    Williams
    Watt

    am I missing anyone? I’ll be eager to hear their statuses mid-week and hopefully they’re sitting out was about precaution and rest than major injury.

    • upthera44 - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      *their

    • nudeman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:07 PM

      Is Ishaq’s absence really an issue? 3.5 years and zero impact plays. A tackle here and there.
      Forced a fumble against Navy last year that Tuitt returned for a TD. Navy.
      Am I forgetting some other booming tackle, sack, INT???
      He’s like Big Papi in Minnesota, pre-juice.

      Next spring we’ll hear about how “the light is going on” for Ishaq.
      Problem is, the light burns rather dimly

      Frankly Joe Schmidt is having a better year.

      • dmac4real - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:12 PM

        Ishaq is playing well this year. He played real good against USC. Quit being hypercritical.

      • nudeman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:29 PM

        I don’t break down tape, and I watch games like a pedestrian. e.g. I watch the ball.
        So maybe he’s better than I give him credit for.

        But if the guy is around the ball a lot, making/assisting a tackle/sack, I’d at least know that.
        Never see it. Maybe he does all sorts of other wonderful stuff that I don’t see.

        If he was an average rated recruit, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
        After 2.5 years (mistakenly wrote 3.5 earlier) I’d characterize him as “just another guy out there” .

        I don’t think he’s killing us, but the next time I hear Dan Hicks say ” … and he’s driven to the ground for a loss by Ishaq Williams” will be the first

      • ndgoldandblue - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:22 AM

        As a Twins fan, please don’t bring up Big Papi. That one still stings. Almost as bad as the Vikings trading the franchise away for Hershel Walker.

    • knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:04 PM

      You ask if you’re missing anyone? Shumate? Grace? Spond?

      • knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:05 PM

        Oh yeah. Tony Springmann?

      • knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:07 PM

        Christian Lombard?

      • knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        Greg Bryant? All out with injuries this year. And then, EG …. put him down as MIA.

      • knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:10 PM

        Just remembered… Nick Baratti too.

      • knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:11 PM

        But, that’s the nature of this game.

      • knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:26 PM

        Chase Hounshell and Alex Welch? Yish! More than I had thought once I stopped to think about who is down for ND.

      • nudeman - Oct 28, 2013 at 8:49 AM

        getsome
        You are not the least bit clever about this
        Captain Obvious is in the room

      • knuterocknesghost - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:47 PM

        You can only speculate Nude. Just as I speculate you’re IrishPuma or his clone. In any case, I know for sure where I sit, and I don’t know where getsome sits. Go ahead if it tickles you to think we both sit in the same seat.

  10. rationalnd - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    ND just out of the top 25. I don’t see them rising up past 20-17 before the Stanford game and that’s just in the AP. The BCS poll could be even harder to rise up in and that’s the one that really matters. Would beating Stanford vault ND into the top 14? Sound like a long shot at best.

    Call me a pessimist (I think I’m a realist), but I just don’t see this team being able to compete with a legit top 10 team. The main reason being the lack of a solid running game and the questionable defense. I leave out Tommy because I think he’s serviceable enough to win given a strong running game and defense.

    As for the run game let’s hope McDaniel and Folston are #’s 1 & 2 on the depth chart. Atkinson and Carlisle are looking like busts. I think the water boy from Air Force could take down GAIII.

    I know the D has been solid the last few weeks but the ASU game is the only one where they exceeded expectations. They did what they were supposed to against undermanned USC and AF squads. They are definitely improving over the 1st half of the season and could be very impressive by the end of the year

    Given all that, shutdown/run the ball well against Stanford then I’ll buy a ticket on the BCS train. Until then, count me in for a dominant Irish win in the Pinstripe Bowl over the Irish getting dominated in the Sugar Bowl.

    • irish4006 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:18 AM

      Not all top 10 teams are created equal, ladies and gentlemen. If ND plays Miami today, we will give hand out the same beating we did last year. Did anyone here watch them play. I did. It’s not a pretty sight. They get credit for beating Florida. Florida isn’t that great to begin with and they outplayed Miami for the most part. They just voluntarily gave up the ball many times and made sure Miami walked out with a W. Louisville also spent a lot of time in the top 10. There are a few like those, but yeah, we will likely be crushed by most legit teams.

      It may be considered blasphemous, but I am not seeing Cam as no.1 back. I have not seen enough of Amir to write him off yet. I like Tarean too. They should be one and two. I am fine with Cam running out the clock. He doesn’t have the speed or the burst to be dangerous against good teams.

      • nudeman - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:34 PM

        On Cam I agree he’s not #1 RB on a really big time program like ND

        Having said that, he’s much better than I thought at the beginning of the year.
        That move he threw on the USC safety (Su’a Cravens?) was not one I knew he had.

      • irish4006 - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:57 PM

        Agreed. He did have a few good moves here and there, he also runs the hardest. He is a fine back, but not a number one back for a team with BCS aspirations. For example, when Cierre Wood/Julius Jones/Jonas Gray broke the first tackle, you were almost guaranteed big, really big yards. Cam is not in the same class. A few short yards, every time; but will not outrun the defenders for big gains. He just doesn’t have that kind of speed.

    • upthera44 - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:03 AM

      I think BYU is getting a lot of respect this year after big wins against Texas and Boise State. If we beat Navy, Pitt and then BYU we should be in the mid teens, but we’ll see.

    • bb90grad - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      Remember, the BCS doesn’t use the AP in its calcs, but does use the Coaches and Harris polls. With Stanford at 5 at Oklahoma at 10 for now and both with a good chance to win out, ND’s strength of schedule stays pretty solid.

  11. irishdodger - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    I still think this is ultimately an 8-4 team. They should get by Navy & Pitt with wins but I think they fall to BYU & Stanford. They don’t fare well against dual threat QBs & the Hill kid for the Cougars is truly a dual threat now that he’s passing efficiently. The BYU defense is salty as well.

    • c4evr - Oct 30, 2013 at 12:45 AM

      Better hope for 8-4, because that would mean a W in the Pinstripe Bowl against BK’s old team. Otherwise, sneaking into the BCS would likely mean a bout with FSU, and getting pounded mercilessly.

  12. goirishgo - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    I can’t wait for next year’s playoff and expanded playoffs down the road. Polls have long outlived whatever little usefulness they had. Settle it on the field!

    • knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:54 PM

      Yeah. Better to have a committee decide the playoff contenders.

      • goirishgo - Oct 28, 2013 at 8:57 PM

        At least they’ll be selecting four (and ultimately eight) instead of two.

  13. knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    14 games is a damn long season for college kids, and I think it taxes their bodies far more than what we ought to expect from them.

    The reason for going to playoffs? Money. And who cares about what this does to the players. They’ll do whatever they’re told. After all, their competitors and will run through a brick wall if you just point the finger in the right direction. Coaches then see their programs incomes rise, and the season becomes more lucrative for schools who will then want to pay top dollar to head coaches.

    When the playoffs were discussed, how much did the “powers that be” (including head coaches) ever advocate for the players, advocate in terms of what this meant for the health of the players, the vast, vast majority of whom will never play in the pros?

    • mtflsmitty - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      Assuming these teams were all going to a bowl game anyhow, doesn’t the four team playoff only add one game? After the four team playoff, I think your points are cause for serious consideration. Off the cuff idea: Maybe teams opt into playoff consideration, and those who opt in give up one regular season game. That would blunt the move to an eight team format.

    • goirishgo - Oct 28, 2013 at 8:58 PM

      At least they’ll be selecting four (and ultimately eight) instead of two.

      • goirishgo - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:03 PM

        Oops. Hotel wifi snafu. Apologies for the double post.

    • goirishgo - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      Please. High school teams play 14 games in pursuit of a state championship.

    • ndirish32 - Oct 29, 2013 at 6:55 AM

      So what? These kids are paid handsomely, in my estimation, with free tuition to one of the finest universities in the world. To be able to start out in life with a degree from Notre Dame and NO student loan debt is a HUGE advantage over the general population. I have a bachelor’s degree from a much less prestigous institution than Notre Dame, and it’s opened doors to me and enabled me to provide for my family far beyond what I would’ve been capable of if I didn’t have it.

      • ndirish32 - Oct 29, 2013 at 6:57 AM

        And if they DON’T get that degree, with all the training table and tutors made available at a place like ND, they have no one to blame but themselves.

  14. knuterocknesghost - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    After all, THEY’RE competitors and will run through a brick wall….

    Like CM sort of did for BK when he hit the gauntlet machine backwards after telling BK repeatedly that the line was formed on the wrong side of that equipment.

  15. yaketyyacc - Oct 28, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    college football has moved from a sporting game for old alma mater, to a very big time money maker.
    the universities accept this change as they ring up the cash registers, but do not include the laborers in the financial part of the equation. if you give free rides for education due to athletic ability. then it is time to give monetary compensation, to allow players to major in their particular sport, and a share in some of the decisions.
    Notre Dame will always go to a bowl game, based on its place in college football history and lore, more than any other university.
    coaches are paid millions, and their staffs are more then amply compensated, and we say to the player, hey, here is a crumb for you, free education. who gets paid more, Peyton Manning or his coach. and so on.
    Notre Dame spent 42 million expanding the stadium and Michigan 100 million. for dear old alma mater? Notre Dame missed the boat though. we were smart enough to borrow Michigan’s stadium blueprints, but too dumb to borrow Jerry Jones’.
    time to recognize college football is big business for EVERYONE.

    • bernhtp - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:09 AM

      Football is a money-maker for a few dozen schools and nets positive for only a small handful after paying for the money-losing Olympic sports. Notre Dame football players (most of them) get a scholarship worth well over $60K/year ($80K when summer school is included) along with many other benefits. The elite few that make it to the NFL get years of invaluable training and a showcase for their talent. Everyone gets an experience that will last them for life and a Notre Dame degree all but one or two would not have otherwise been eligible for. To say they aren’t compensated misses the big picture.

      Notre Dame is among the few FBS programs that takes the student part of student-athlete seriously. All take academic course loads (no PE) and none have the lifestyle of Manziel (does not attend class and gets paid for signing memorabilia), but they nonetheless seem happy/grateful for the experience.

      If big-time college football became a pro league and lost its last pretense of academic anything, it would likely mean a separation for Notre Dame – they would go the way of the Ivy League along with a few other schools.

      • nudeman - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:45 PM

        This latest groundswell about the need to pay players is nauseating.

        Can’t they understand the value of a free education?
        Most will need it because an extremely small % will make and save enough money in the NFL to not need a real job at some point in their lives.

        The average NFL career is something like 3.5 years. Even if you figure the average earnings are $1.0M during that period (probably high), most have kids and a couple Porsches. Some who have kids even get married. Bottom line: The statistic is 75% are broke within 5 years of leaving the NFL.

        For them to be placing a premium on getting some spending money while they’re in college instead of actually getting a degree is embarrassingly stupid. Someone is giving them advice that is nearly criminally bad.

  16. bridget163245 - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Why does Notre Dame have there own slot of news? Their no different then PSU, OSU, Michagen, A&M and all of those other big teams! Notre Dame isn’t even in the Big 10!

    • 1historian - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      The answer to your question is simple – Notre Dame is Notre Dame.

      Work on your spelling

    • mcirish27 - Oct 28, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      Oh bridget. Poor, sweet, innnocent, silly, bridget. Thanks for stopping by.

      • papadec - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:08 PM

        Not too bright Bridget.

  17. danirish - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    In my humble opinion, the Navy game should feature a lot of running with McDanial and Folston – they have separated themselves from the rest.

    I do wonder if Navy will stack the box and play man to man like AFA did. Perhaps we might see a more spread defesne that has to pay attention to all three levels of pass (Oh to see a deep ball to a running receiver AND it wasn’t a jump ball!) Fuller, mancrush!)

    I think we are in for a crazy ending – I hope for 10-2 but I guess that’s why they play the games. I hope that the next two games are used for healing and playing the youngins as long as they are W’s.

    I’d take a “close” game against Navy and Pitt if the injuried are healing and the inexperienced get the playing time.

    As I’ve said a lot this year – JUST WIN BABY!

    GO IRISH!

    • ndirish32 - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:03 AM

      I’m sick of BK claiming they can’t run the ball just becaues the other team puts 8 in the box. Half the time, he doesn’t even try. And sometimes them packing guys in like that is an advantage, because if you get past the D Line the back has a chance to take it all the way.

      • danirish - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:21 AM

        Well, with 8-9 in the box then you know that your WR’s are in man to man coverage and its great to take advantage of that ala Air Force. ND’s biggest issue is that we haven’t been able to take advantage against great coverage teams.

        I mentioned in the 5 thing we learned column that I think the run blocking is suspect, even versus Air Force it seemed the D was getting very quick penetration.

      • ndfenian - Oct 30, 2013 at 12:29 AM

        I agree. Teams that have effective running games force their will on defenses, especially in the second half. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record here regarding the Holtz era, but if you go back and look at those highlights, you will often see eight defenders in the box trying to stop ND. Yes that was an option, run-first offense, but there are effective running attacks in the spread offense out there, and we don’t have one.

        On the other hand, I was pleased with Kelly and Rees throwing some deep passes. They threw a deep pass on one of the first plays of the games, and although it was incomplete, it helped open up the intermediate passing game. Rees did look good, you have to admit.

  18. domerboyirish - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    OK, so I’ve been bitching for weeks about not running RB screen passes. This weekend I figured out why. If you cannot run block when you are all bunched together and out weight the other line by 60 pounds per man, and get more than 3.6 yards per carry against one of the worst rush defenses in the country, then you probably can’t block squat in open space. Now I want to know if this is a schematic problem (zone or gap), OR if the line isn’t being properly coached, OR if our big muscle isn’t as talented as we’ve been lead to believe.

    After watching Alabama again and how their O-line plays, they play mean and downhill. They want to knock the snot out of you. Where is that with our team? We seem to ‘catch and guide’ with this blocking scheme. If we have some serious size, strength and talent at our disposal, and finally some depth to back it up, why don’t we show up looking to punch guys in the mouth? That may also explain some of these slow starts. We are well conditioned, which is a credit to Longo, and can outlast teams late and can pull out victories. It would just be nice to be angry early and set a tone.

    BTW, seeing Michigan State and ASU in front of in the polls is an absolute joke.

    • ndfenian - Oct 30, 2013 at 12:23 AM

      I think the entire ND nation wonders why we can’t run the ball more effectively. The offensive line is simply not doing a good enough job. Zone vs. gap, I don’t know what the problem is, but the seams just aren’t there. We had great running backs during the Holtz era, for instance, but the holes were huge. Alabama and LSU, Stanford it seems, give their backs room to run. With that said, our backs have also not done a good job breaking tackles and making people miss. For a back to really succeed in this offense, he’s gonna have to make his own holes. McDaniel seems most capable of doing this, of the original three starters. Folston sure looked good on Saturday though!

      And yes, we should use the screen game more as a substitute for an effective run game!

  19. fnc111 - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    To think ND’s record would be even better than 26-4 the last 30 games if the head coach actually cared about beating scUM.

    • DPU Man ND Fan - Oct 28, 2013 at 2:03 PM

      To think? I’m not sure that you actually did.

    • danirish - Oct 28, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      Notre Dame AD: “Glad you are a part of Notre Dame Coach Kelly!”

      Coach Kelly: “I’m going to do all I can to bring a championship to Notre Dame, er, except beat Michigan, I don’t care to beat Michigan.”

      Notre Dame AD: “Ok.”

      True story bro!

    • tucsonfan - Oct 29, 2013 at 2:14 AM

      The dumbest of your many dumb posts fnc.

  20. sisqsage - Oct 28, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    You can always count on an anti-ND bias in the polls on some level.
    I was not impressed with Mich St. when they played us (QB and off. scheme), and their early schedule was not very tough before coming to South Bend. The Big 10 has been down the last few years which also gives them some cheap wins. ND is clearly better than Ariz. State. We beat them despite throwing away a lot of early scoring opps., which usually gets you beat against a good team. I must say I love the roster depth that is building up, as BK noted. The BK regime has a nice plan in place with recruiting, which should only get better with success on the field and bowl wins. Unlike previous regimes, these guys know how to build the brand (selling ND to 4-5 star recruits) and then follow through with success on the field. Stanford is the big test. They are going to try to run the ball down our throat, but the Irish D is good enough to hold up. Utah proved Stanford is not as good as first thought. Don’t turn the ball over and we have a great chance.

    • papadec - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:13 PM

      The only ranking that matters, is the final BCS ranking.

  21. getsome99 - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    D1 athletes actually do get paid a cash per diem as student athletes. The athletes just want the amount to be increased as well as a cut off the NCAA’s profits from their services in jersey sales and video games. This is where the debate really lies.

    I do believe the per diem should be increased with inflation as college athletes in most cases are required to put in more time to earn their status on the roster. There are still limitations to getting part time jobs, although this is an area that could be looked at closer. A co-op work program that creates legitimate jobs in community services where the school would pay the wages out of the athletic budget. No work. No extra cash.

    This would need to be closely monitored as this system is already being abused today.

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