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Pitt Mailbag

Nov 8, 2013, 2:42 AM EDT

Moshood Adeniji, Stephon Tuitt AP

Let’s get to it.

NotreDan: How does the defensive scheme have to change with all of the injuries we have suffered? Can scheme even compensate? Have you heard anything from inside channels about this?

I think a different head coach and coordinator might be more prone to tweak scheme. But that hasn’t been Brian Kelly’s MO, and I certainly don’t believe that’s what Bob Diaco will do, either.

Knowing Diaco a little bit, I expect him to drill down on the fundamentals. He’ll spend more time talking about “mastering your musts,” the three things each position group absolutely must master. (Tim Prister at Irish Illustrated wrote about this a few weeks ago.)  You don’t take inexperienced players and add more to their plate, you focus on the basics.

On the surface, it makes complete sense to try and tweak things to play to what you have. But in reality, you’ve got 20 hours a week with these guys. That’s not enough to implement wholesale changes.

aisforara: Why is it that ND’s offense seems incapable (with the exception of Temple and Air Force games) of extending a one-score lead to a two-score lead? Is it complacency? A flaw in tactics or strategy? Lack of fire? Lack of leadership? Here’s what I do know: It’s incredibly frustrating.

Let’s throw out the lack of fire and leadership. I’d also consider schedule. It’s no coincidence that the easy games, Notre Dame has won easily. But I think struggles in the red zone have been part of the problem as well as the evolution of the running back position. Throw in the challenges had by the defense early in the year and it’s pretty tough to pull away from anybody.

@scottiefry: BK is 70th highest paid cfb coach? This article can’t be right.

I don’t think it is, either. Notre Dame is a private institution. They have no obligation to share information like a head coach’s salary. That info was likely taken off the school’s 990 tax form, a document that only tells a fraction of the story for compensation.

If I had to guess what Kelly was making, I think it’d be in the $3.5 million range.

yllibnosredna: Although it’s always a dubious subject to discuss (particularly recently at Notre Dame), I have a question in regards to ND’s most recent recruiting cycles. Despite the fact that ND’s coaching staff has done a tremendous job landing some big-time talent hitting the West coast and the southeast and Texas hard, it seems like ND is whiffing on some big fish in their own back yard. Perhaps not in Indiana (with Jaylon Smith, Sheldon Day, and Gunner Kiel all signing with ND), but in nearby Midwestern states, particularly Illinois–specifically the Chicago area. Names like Laquon Treadwell, Ty Isaac, and Ethan Pocic come to mind. In this year’s recruiting cycle, Nyles Morgan seems like a long shot, and neither Clifton Garrett nor Jamarco Jones (who attends a Catholic school) really even seemed to consider Notre Dame as a legitimate option. In addition, consensus top 5 recruit Jabrill Peppers, who also attends a Catholic school in a relatively nearby state, never had ND on his radar. I guess I am curious as to why lately ND has been able to grab a guy like Greg Bryant from a secular school in Florida yet is struggling to get a blue chip from a Catholic school in Chicago or the Northeast. Your thoughts?

Let’s work on brevity next time, shall we? But this is a good question and one that probably can’t be answered in a standard mailbag. There is no easy answer to a question like this, and believe me — Chuck Martin thought that he’d do really well in the Chicago area… and still does.

Trying to bunch the Chicagoland area in one basket is pretty foolish, and a guy like Ty Isaac would’ve probably gone to ND if he didn’t feel like he was walking away from his commitment to USC.  Some other Chicago guys, the Irish have come up No. 2. But I agree, they aren’t the pipeline that once was dominated by Holtz.

I had heard from someone inside the football department once that it only takes one bad experience by a player from a region or school to make it tough for anyone else to sign. Demetrius Jones’ high profile departure after one game playing for Charlie Weis didn’t help the Irish in the Chicago Public League. Tee Shepard and Deontay Greenberry not making it work at Notre Dame hasn’t helped in Fresno. But I don’t think there’s anything overly systemic about it, and one player can often open the flood gates.

jmfinsd: We all love Irish Chocolate and Tuitt, but apparently we’re biased. Neither is listed as one of the 12 finalists for the Lombardi award given to the nation’s top lineman (offensive or defensive) or linebacker. How can 2 guys be expected to be top 10 or 20 draft picks, but not be on this list? And while this does nothing to support an argument for Nix to come back do you think this is an indication of the perception of Tuitt that he needs to come back next year to rectify?

I think you’re reaching for something here, but not quite getting it. There are plenty of first round draft picks that aren’t Lombardi Award nominees. It happens every year, just not to Notre Dame fans. If you’re thinking that Nix, who has a final season of eligibility but will be getting his degree in the spring, would want to come back to win a Lombardi Award, you’ve got another thing coming.

As for Tuitt, I still think he’s coming back to school. But again, Notre Dame’s defensive system, and the attention both guys get, don’t make these guys exactly awards bait.

elkona: Keith, you seemed a touch acerbic on the live blog last week. Are the maniacs finally getting to you? Can the bye week not come soon enough?

I tend to get cranky on the live blog… just because. When I actually challenge some people’s antics, it’s because they’ve usually been saying something about five times as ridiculous that I didn’t publish. It’s also escalates quite a bit, especially as the game stays closer and closer.

For grown men and women sitting on their couches watching football and surfing the internet, I always have a hard time with people talking about how “embarrassing” a football team’s performance is, or how “inexcusable” it is that Notre Dame doesn’t dominate every play on every snap of every game.

I’m not going to lie, the bye week will be plenty of fun. But I tend to enjoy the fact based fight against some knuckleheads who can’t even make garage logic work.

rocket1988: Keith, When you go back to Notre Dame what are your favorite establishments to enjoy an adult beverage? Has it changed since you were a student?

Rocket, I’m not picky, but I usually end up at the Linebacker for a drink with friends, especially with its proximity to campus. But I’d love to take a trip down memory lane to Finnegans or reopen The Boat Club for a special engagement, but this whole “work trip” thing and writing makes it tough.

@jfoneill22: Keith, will you be suiting up on the defensive line this weekend?

Jeez, John. I haven’t gained that much weight this month eating craft service, have I?

tburke9601: Who gets the majority of the handoffs this week? And where has Davaris Daniels been the last couple of games? He has been very quiet lately.

I think Folston leads the team in carries, though I don’t think it’s a majority. As for Daniels, he’s been stuck in neutral the past few weeks and I can’t help but think that effort on 50-50 balls like the one that was intercepted before halftime is a reason why.

DaVaris has all the talent needed to take charge and dominate a game. He just hasn’t necessarily decided that he’s going to do it every Saturday, and there seems to be a lack of communication with Tommy Rees, something TJ Jones and Rees have in spades.

MichiganDomer1984: On a scale of 1 – 10 (10 is high), how obnoxiously unrealistic are ND fans in your opinion? Compared to other high brand programs? I am a double graduate and I actually hate a part of our fan base. Am I crazy?

I don’t think you are crazy. Not one bit. I tend to dislike that group, too. That being said, ND isn’t the only group like that. Far from it.

Maybe a good, solid 8.0 for obnoxiously unrealistic. But it is crazy that most Notre Dame fans forgot the Irish ran the table last regular season and have only lost two games with a backup quarterback.

ndgoldandblue: Keith, do you think the running game will have the same kind of success as last week against Navy? Why or why not?

No, I don’t. I think Aaron Donald is why.

Nudeman: QUESTION: For you, as a student and as a writer, what is the lowest point you can remember?

Nude, I’m shocked — SHOCKED! — that you’d focus on the absolute low point.

As an alum and fan, the 2005 Bush Push game was one of the lowest points of fandom. The high and perfection of the game and electricity in the stadium, and then the chaos and sadness of the loss was remarkable.

I’ve lost that kind of fan engagement since doing this for a job, but I think the lowest and saddest moments for me were covering stories like the Declan Sullivan tragedy and Matt James’ passing away on Spring Break.

Those two stories were remarkably difficult and I struggled with them because I connected with the life experiences both young men had and went through, but also because I couldn’t stand watching people so quickly define what the story was.

Neither of those tragedies were black and white, yet some reporting was just looking to assign blame and outrage and then move on. I had a very hard time with that.

Nudeman: BTW, the question on everyone’s mind: Dickasman has been conspicuously absent, of late.

Nobody is banned. We are having some problems with comments going into Spam and the WordPress VIPs are helping with that. But there are some words that now get caught in the filter that didn’t before, so everybody will need to clean up the language.


  1. onward2victory - Nov 8, 2013 at 3:15 AM

    Nude, I don’t think you’re the only one who has noticed a lack of postings by dickasman. At first I was really happy about this because it had gotten to the point where he was just posting a ridiculous amount of nonsense that it wasn’t even worth scrolling through the comments because every other comment was from dickas!

    But then Wednesday in the mailbag section, as his question to Keith, he simply wrote “Pull my finger”. And I remembered that dickasman can actually be funny. Now if he could just learn a little comment section self-control…

  2. deaconjack - Nov 8, 2013 at 5:57 AM

    You are young only once but can stay immature indefinitely.
    — Ogden Nash

    Perhaps he is in metamorphism. Let’s hope so.

  3. domerboyirish - Nov 8, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    Keith, I’m shocked that you didn’t answer the Alex Flannagan question for Scotatnd, Does this have anything to do with the restraining order keeping him at 500 feet from her at a times?

  4. bearcatirishfan - Nov 8, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    You heard that right folks, Keith does not appreciate salty language!

  5. ndgoldandblue - Nov 8, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    To Keith’s response to my question of whether or not the Irish will have success with the running game this week, all I can say is….that’s just great *completely facetious*. I really hope Kelly and Martin don’t tell Rees to start chucking it all over the yard just because the first few runs weren’t remarkably successful. We’ve all seen defenses get run-down in the fourth quarter from a punishing rushing attack.

    Think of it like body blows in a boxing match. In the first few rounds, those body shots don’t seem to do much, but in the later rounds, those punches start to take their effect and often set up knock-outs. Two- to three-yard gains in the first quarter can turn into five- to six-yarders by the fourth. The Irish certainly have the horses to do it.

    • bearcatirishfan - Nov 8, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      Alot of that willl be predicated by the defense. If they can keep Pitt from scoring I’m sure they will run more

    • tburke9601 - Nov 8, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      Absolutely. All one has to do is watch the Stanford game from last night to know that a power running game is absolutely demoralizing to not only the defense, but also the offense. Did you see the look on the entire Oregon team. Pound the rock Irish! All game long!

    • danirish - Nov 9, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      Don’t care as long as it is a W for ND! 10 passes, 20 passes, 80 passes! JUST WIN!

      GO IRISH!

  6. NotreDan - Nov 8, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    I had occasion to receive an email from Keith this week, and while I will respond to him in private, I feel compelled to offer him a public apology for my attacks that turned in some instances personal.

    Keith, I’m sorry, I was wrong.


    • Keith Arnold - Nov 8, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      Far from necessary, Dan. But appreciated.

      Now back to football!

    • getsome99 - Nov 8, 2013 at 7:29 PM

      Good job Dan but what about my public apology? Don’t you think some of your attacks against me were personal too?

      Seriously though. We can’t take the frustrations of recent ND football misfortune out on each other. We’re the fans, students, and alums and we all believe we’re the best and deserve the best but we need to see the results on the field. As a fan community, let’s keep the up the good dialogue and be the best fanbase too.

      That’s it. Go Irish!

      • irish4006 - Nov 8, 2013 at 7:46 PM

        I am sorry getsome99 that I called you an idiot…

        In my defense, you are an idiot 90% of the time, like now when you are trying to be funny.

      • nudeman - Nov 9, 2013 at 10:04 AM

        Asking for an apology? Seriously?
        After your fecal laden debut here 3 weeks ago dude, you should be apologizing to all of us daily.
        Or even better … just go away

  7. nudeman - Nov 8, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    1. ” It’s no coincidence that the easy games, Notre Dame has won easily”
    Other than Air Force, what game has ND won easily?

    2. BK is not the 70th highest paid coach. I believe the figure they listed for him was before his contract was redone

    3. Nix and Tuitt: IMO, both have had just so-so years. Both have legit reasons (surgery for Tuitt and constant double teams for Lou), and both are 1st rounders most likely, but really there hasn’t been a lot of dominance from them. Their play has ranged from lackluster (early in the year for Tuitt) to pretty good for both recently. But I can’t recall a dominating game. USC comes closest.

    • ctfivula - Nov 8, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      #1 I was wondering the exact same thing!

    • mbannon92 - Nov 8, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      Re. 1: Temple. It may not have been the most dominating performance, but I would consider 28-6 a pretty easy win.

  8. mbannon92 - Nov 8, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Love the drinking establishments question!

    The Backer is, well, the Backer. Pretty crappy but you go if everyone else is.

    Finny’s is pretty much a supersized dorm party, down to the torn up walls covered in posters. Take that how you will.

    I’m personally a fan of Corby’s. Good deals and a lot of space. And the patio is excellent in the warmer months.

    • irish4006 - Nov 8, 2013 at 7:39 PM

      I was surprised that Keith didn’t mention Corby’s. It was my favorite. IIRC, the bar scene in Rudy was also shot in Corby’s.

      Backer is, as you pointed out, of course, the Backer.

  9. jgater1981 - Nov 8, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    I like the question about our annoying fan base. I was just thinking about this, and realized it’s not us, it’s every fan base of every sports team ever. I was reading comments from Red Sox fans about how terrible they were, days before winning the series (yeah, that team gets it a lot too, but still). It’s just in a fans nature, I guess. My dad and I (and brother texting us) bitch and moan all game and then run around hugging and cheering in the end. It’s what passionate fans do (right? Right!?).

    • irish4006 - Nov 8, 2013 at 7:43 PM

      If you are perfectly logical, don’t get upset and don’t act like you own the team; you might as well stop calling yourself a fan of any particular team. I can be all that and even enjoy the proceedings when I am watching games with no skin in it, e.g., last night’s game between the tree and the ducks.

    • getsome99 - Nov 8, 2013 at 8:44 PM

      It is every fan base. As we were leaving the OU game in Norman last year, all we kept hearing from the students and tailgaters on campus pissing and moaning about how Bob Stoops should be fired and Landry Jones was the worst QB in the country. We’re talking about a coach who has won 8 Big 12 championships in 14 seasons.

      Most ND fans just seem to be grumpy. We had some guests in for the ASU game and as I welcomed 3 of them at the hotel bar the night before, I asked “Are we going to get this thing back on track tomorrow night?!” The response from all 3 at the same time was “Not with Tommy at QB.” Then at the game, we had 2 other ND fans in our group and one ASU alum. The entire pregame, the 2 ND guys are sucking up to the ASU alum talking about how ASU was going to embarrass ND tonight and “please have mercy on us”. I, on the other hand, was doing airborne push-ups and the fighting Irish fist pumps in the ASU guy’s face after every first down and TD.

      The “annoying” fans are the ones who have unrealistic expectations about their team and expect every play to be perfectly executed or else the coach should be fired and the players benched.

      • nudeman - Nov 9, 2013 at 12:46 AM

        Frankly YOU sound pretty annoying, knute, with those air push ups in a guy’s face
        I hope he decked you

  10. mtflsmitty - Nov 8, 2013 at 9:38 PM


    I wanted to offer an additional POV in response to your question. Wife and I were sitting around talking college football the other day (she’s no BostonJan not alwayspositive, but she’s very cool) prompted by a story she came across on top HS football leagues/districts nationwide. She was shocked to read that something like 5 out of the top 8 are catholic leagues from around the country. I reminded her that most of the schools in those leagues are able to attract talent (ie recruit) in ways public schools can’t.

    Point being, the fact some of the stud HS players you mentioned attend Catholic schools probably has less to do with their connection to The Church, and more to do with the fact they wanted to play in Leagues that attract the best competition, and a lot of attention from university recruiters.

    • 1historian - Nov 9, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      If stud HS players attend Catholic Schools (even though they are not Catholic) in order to get more attention from recruiters, they must also do so because they know that they will get a better education there than they would in a public HS.

      Therefore we should attract more of them regardless of their (if any) religious affiliation.

  11. fnc111 - Nov 9, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    All I ask is beat Michigan for crying out loud. If ND beat them and went 9-3 every year I’d be happy. The people who think this program should go 12-0 every year need to look at a map and learn geography. Southern schools will be dominating forever!

  12. fnc111 - Nov 9, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    I agree with nude. Show some class as a fan dude. I too hope he laid you out. True ND fans don’t act like that.

  13. 1historian - Nov 9, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    feces occur

  14. 1historian - Nov 9, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    When I was a freshman at ND in 1961 I knew a guy named Dave Clements from McKees Rocks, Pa. He was always talking about his little brother Tommy and how good a QB he already was.

    • nudeman - Nov 9, 2013 at 7:28 PM

      You’ve posted that before. Interesting, but what is the point here?

      • 1historian - Nov 9, 2013 at 10:02 PM

        Actually nude – I forget why I posted that and i know I’ve posted it before. Just one of the bennies of being an old (retired) fart and enjoying following you young whipper-snappers from up here in the wild woods of Maine.

        BTW – thanks for remembering

  15. mmanor01 - Nov 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Keith, what year did you graduate? I thought Finnegans and Boat Club are gone and have been for years.


  16. danirish - Nov 9, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Man I tire of the term “true fan.” No one has the qualifications or authority to determine who is or who isn’t a “true fan.” Every team has fans that may embarrass other fans. In my experience, SEC has some of the worst fans

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