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IBG: Bye week questions

Nov 13, 2013, 2:12 PM EDT

ibg_nokelly3

First off, I’m going to state my jealousy for two better title writers than myself. Hats off to these two columns for coming up with something far more clever than I did.

That being said, let’s get to the questions at hand in the new IBG. Our panelists each supplied a question to be answered in the aftermath of Notre Dame’s 28-21 loss to Pittsburgh. Once again, here’s our crew:

Her Loyal Sons
ND Nation
UHND
Strong and True

On to the questions. I’m very curious to your answers, especially my question to the rest of the panel, which I’ve listed below.

NDtex: Stephon Tuitt’s ejection for “targeting” (and I use that term very loosely) definitely added more frustration to an already horrid game. I’m all for promoting player safety, but I definitely don’t think this new rule is the way to go. Do you agree? If so, how would you change the rule? If you’d like to keep it, what are your reasons for leaving it alone?

The rule makes sense, but the application of the rule stinks. That Tuitt got flagged a week after officials mangled a sideline hit on Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds has to have Brian Kelly seeing purple.

As Tex said, everybody is for player safety. But I think the rule is a big step backwards, and puts another responsibility in the hands of officials that seem to struggle getting even the basics right.

Kelly isn’t the only one griping about the implementation of the rule.

Frank Vitovitch (UHND.com): After running the ball effectively in the first half, Notre Dame all but abandoned the run in the second half against Pitt even they didn’t trail at all until there was less than 9 minutes remaining in the contest. Is Notre Dame’s lack of a commitment to the running game this year as opposed to last the reason the Irish themselves right back where they were in 2011?

I don’t think it’s quite that simple, but I know more than a few people banging pots and pans claiming this to be the case. I think Kelly himself gave the best Cliff-notes version of this season yesterday when he said the following:

“We’re all accountable. Nobody here is looking for excuses. We’re looking for solutions. But the facts are the facts. We turned the ball over eight times in our three losses and we took it away once. In our seven wins, we turned it over five times and took it away seven times. In our three losses, we gave up passes of 64, 63 and 54-yards. In our seven wins, we gave up one 48-yard pass to Purdue. Those are facts.”

Do I think the Irish would benefit from running the football more? Yes. But I think there’s been an inefficiency in the ground game, whether that’s because of an entirely new depth chart at running back or a rebuilt offensive line, and it’s clearly been something the Irish staff hasn’t trusted like last season.

Aaron Horvath (Strong and True): With two games left before bowl season is at hand there is work at hand to finish off the season strong. What must the Irish do well on offense and defense over the last two games to give themselves a chance to get to 9-3?

Getting to 9-3 shouldn’t be the focus. Getting to 8-3 should. The nightmare scenario that nobody wants to address is a loss to BYU. That puts the Irish in a scenario where they’ve lost two straight games heading to Palo Alto, and the possibility of a four-game slide to conclude the season.

Offensively, balance and good decision making need to come first. If Tommy Rees completes just 45 percent of his passes, but doesn’t turn the football over, he’ll be doing well enough. Defensively, the front line needs to get and stay healthy. Expect to see as many snaps out of Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix and Sheldon Day as possible. The back-ups are not just inexperienced, but also dinged up.

Mike Coffey (NDNation.com): There are only so many things you can do during the season to correct the larger issues on a team, as most time must be spent on the opponent du jour. Name one issue you hope is at the top of the coaching staff’s list for this off-season and why?

Red Zone solutions. The Irish need to get better in the red zone, and that’ll likely be as easy as plugging in Everett Golson, who’ll have the run threat on his side. People forget that it was Golson that led the Irish in rushing touchdowns last season. Add in some confidence that comes with knowing the offense better and spending a season as a student of football, and there’s every reason things should improve.

My runner up? The defensive front seven. Even assuming Stephon Tuitt is returning for his senior season, what this group looks like up front next year will be anyone’s guess. Will Tony Springmann be healthy enough to walk into the starting lineup at nose guard? Who takes over the inside linebacker position next to Jarrett Grace? Will the 3-4 be as effective without a monster like Louis Nix on the inside?

***

Finally, my question for everyone else to answer:

How much can you learn from one game? If you listen to some, the Irish’s loss to Pitt seems to have erased just about every bit of good that’s happened over the past four seasons. No doubt, the Pitt loss was one of the most disappointing of the Kelly era. But how do you personally measure the game and disappointment final score, and does it change the opinion you held of Brian Kelly at 7:59pm EST last Saturday?

Participate below.

  1. brendanfitzgibbons - Nov 13, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    I hear a lot of what you are saying about Kelly but I think at the time, he was a great hire and really our best option at the time. I think he’s been an excellent recruiter, shown he can put together some stanch defenses and we did go 12-0 which is pretty incredible.

    Two things that I have serious questions about though, first, is the way he handled the quarterback situation. Keith I agree with you, when you say right now Tommy Rees gives us the best option to win but that’s like saying heroin gives us the best option to live. Everyone acts like Tommy Rees has been our only option for four years, and that’s just not true. NUDE thanks for posting that Eric Hansen article it was really really great and points out exactly what a lot of us have been thinking is that Kelly really bet the entire farm on Rees. Yes Golson was suspended, and that was not Kelly’s fault but in 2011 when Rees was being Rees almost everyone except Keith and Brian Kelly saw that Rees was never going to get us to a BCS game. Ever.

    So from that season on, Kelly should have been prepared for worst case scenarios meaning, recruiting and keeping talented quarterbacks who can grow and develop. Keep in mind Golson was here in 2011, he could have given Gunner Kiel more reps and shown that he had a future at ND. And he’s doing it again this year. As much as I think Golson will come back and have a good year, I will totally acknowledge that he could come back and fail or get injured and then what do we have? Zaire has no experience and Hendrix has shown that he’s not ready, so who’s fault is that? Quarterback is the most important position in all of sports, so you make it a priority especially at ND.

    Secondly, I question how many recruits have left this program and the way that Kelly sees talent. Someone posted about this earlier, but he does seem to be clearly inconsistent about the players he gives breaks to. For example, Amir Carlisle fumbles once, and basically gets his playing time cut in more than half, Cam McDaniel fumbles nothing happens. I think Atkinson was not running great at the beginning of the year but lately has come on really strong. He had 6 carries for 57 yards, 9.5 average against Pitt and barely even saw the football in the second half, and Cam had 9 rushes for 22 yards. I think Cam is a fine running back but doesn’t have the same game breaking speed as GAIII. Then of course the Rees situation has been totally well documented. It’s no secret that BK and staff have given him unlimited chances at QB, and he says nothing when he throws his almost 40th interception but screams at every other quarterback who touches the ball, then will throw them under the bus in the post game press conference. And think that’s why so many ND fans are frustrated about Rees, it’s not even Rees’ fault. Its always been ND coaches and sports writers who have sold us this phony “Rees as gritty intelligent underdog nostalgia” story that was never true. Where have been the articles about how smart TJ Jones and Zach Martin are?

    And lastly everybody talks about losing Aaron Lynch, Gunner Kiel, Davonte Neal, Ronald Darby, Deontay Greenberry, Eddie Vanderdoes, Tee Shepard, which is WAY TOO much talent to lose, but the one that I actually think was the worst, probably is the one that no one talks about Shaq Evans to UCLA. He apparently left because he was behind Robby Toma in the depth chart and as much as I like Robby Toma, Shaq Evans is a stud, so that makes me question where Kelly head is at in evaluating talent? And if Greg Bryant doesnt see the field next year that will definitely be an indictment on Kelly.

    I don’t want this to be a total doomsday post. I do think the good news is, is that were are one good quarterback away from being an incredibly explosive offense, like 40 points a game offense. We shall see if that happens. I also think that this season is not all Rees’ fault either. We are short speed on defense and seriously need to close some talent gaps. Play Redfield and Butler, I totally agree with that. It’s time to get some speed on D big time.

    • viktory2013 - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      Young man, you have summed up the situation eloquently. Brian is a solid, winning coach, and what he accomplished last year was near miraculous; but his apparent blind spots in certain areas is at the very least odd. Very ordinary players like Rees and Cam routinely supplant far more talented players routinely, and there seems a hugely obvious double standard which I believe might be affecting morale and overall play, and very possibly defections. Young, talented players like Folston and Smith are the only ones hustling out there, while some of these non performing upperclassmen are just going through the motions and “not executing”, but with no apparent consequence. No one seems to want to acknowledge this, certainly not within the staff or media.

    • jimbasil - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      Good stuff Brendan.

      However, I wonder if we are one good QB away from being explosive. Yes we are as far as talent but my issue is Kelly and his ego, not the talent. Will Kelly get out of his own way and kick the Field Goal in the future? Will he relearn to use a running game in the red zone like the one he employed against USC in the rain?

      If he doesn’t, does the possible explosive O stay anemic? We see the signs of their potential even now with Rees at QB as we did with Golson at QB but somehow the O gets reined in by the head-scratching play calls – game day planning. Will Kelly learn to use the clock to save his Defense from more injury or does he continue to ignore the fact that having the ball means the other team doesn’t have it and his Defensive players can stay healthy? (Think Alabama)

      I used to think Kelly had these types of games on purpose because he likes the personal rush of being in the close one – it gives him a jolt of some kind, but now I just question his ego the way I did CW’s. (This isn’t a fire Kelly post. I do ask why and why these journalists keep buying into the Post game bunk)

      • domerboyirish - Nov 14, 2013 at 8:43 AM

        Jim, great point. If we had an explosive QB would we still have an explosive offense? We have one of the most basic, uninspired playbooks in college football. We don’t seem to run at a fast pace. I can’t put my finger on it exactly but there is something missing with the entire offensive playbook and play calling. It’s, well, dull. I’m not saying that you can’t score 40 a game with these play calls if executed properly with talented players (I.e. Lombardi’s Packers teams) BUT it seems like we limit our options and become easy to game plan against.

        When Kelly was hired I remember thinking ‘Wow! Cincinnati’s offense coming to ND with even more talented players! This will be fantastic!” After four years hasn’t materialized. We have bigger, stronger, fast players yet our offense always seems more methodical than instinctive, like we’re running in dry sand. Thoughts?

      • jimbasil - Nov 14, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        I think you said it far better than I could have. Well Done.

        At some point the O has got to be simple enough for the students to understand quickly, while operating efficiently. There appears to be far too many pieces in the construction of the O with players moving in and out for certain types of plays. Far too easy for the D to regroup and read. With ND’s talent the players should be largely the same and the design or look of the O appear the same setting up the next play quickly. TR has great difficulty getting the next play in, in time because of the massive substitutions going on between plays and for what? For the defense to see it’s GAIII coming in as RB so it’s a jet-sweep or a quick pass to the X receiver. In most things that require an instinctual and innate process the term I learned very young was “KISS” – Keep It Simple Stupid. Kelly has some very talented athletes to command and he’s clearly made them into thinkers on the field. And he tips his hand when it comes to the very next play to the defense.

      • brendanfitzgibbons - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        Yeah Jim and Domerboy, I hear ya on that. I just mean this year’s offense has the most complete pieces that Ive seen so far under Kelly. Besides maybe Michigan State, our offense was only ever stopped because of bad playing calling and quarterback play. So yeah definitely play calling is a concern. But our O line, running backs, receivers and tight ends are all incredibly talented, and if they can get the right QB going with some good playing calling, we have the total package.

        And I do remember watching Cincinnati’s offense and how fast and efficient they were under Kelly and we really haven’t seen any of that yet. They need to turn it up for sure next year especially if EG is playing well.

    • returnofdamac - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      Amen @brendanfitzgibbons. My thoughts exactly

    • nudeman - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      Fitzgibbons just homered onto Waveland with 2 men on.
      In the 9th.

    • mtndguy - Nov 13, 2013 at 6:31 PM

      Wow, that’s along post. I actually started nodding off half way through.

    • ctfivula - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      Nice post. Lot’s of good points.

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      plenty of solid insights in that one. the only item that i will add is the comment about what lead to shaq evans transferring. clearly he was a big-time talent, but i seem to remember hearing stories about issues other than talent as reasons why he didn’t get more snaps. i’m not trying to bash this kid long after the fact, especially because the other reasons aren’t entirely clear.

      in any event, my conclusion is that identifying evans as a true talent wasn’t the problem. the problem was that either he wasn’t developed as a player effectively where he could contribute something more than what robbie toma could, or that there was another factor that kept him on the bench.

    • irishdrg1 - Nov 14, 2013 at 8:58 PM

      Why would Hooks not want to be a RB at ND, just look at what Kelly did with Folston after a great week 140 yds he get benched the next week because Cam ‘does the little things’ woud not be surprised if both Folston and Bryant headed back to home to Florida. Malik has to wonder why he can;t see the field or will he spend his career behind EG ??

  2. irishdodger - Nov 13, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    “The nightmare scenario that nobody wants to address is a loss to BYU. That puts the Irish in a scenario where they’ve lost two straight games heading to Palo Alto, and the possibility of a four-game slide to conclude the season.”

    Based on what I seen this season, I believe a four-game slide to finish the season is a foregone conclusion. Other than the ASU & SC wins, this team has played like a an average team. I think these next two games will be ugly double digit losses. I hate it for the seniors (& especially Tommy Rees), but I agree w/ Coach Kelly in that the blame falls directly on the staff. Kelly/Martin should know better than to put the game on Rees’ shoulders as he is better suited as a game manager in a pro-style offense. I’m not a coach, so can anyone justify why you would put Tommy in an empty set formation? Why would they ever allow Rees to roll out? Why would an elite RB want to come to ND knowing that Kelly refuses to establish a run game…especially when it would put his immobile QB in a better position to succeed? I’m glad Kelly is the HC, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t question his philosophy when it seems to cost the Irish games.

    • ndirish10 - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      “…played like an average team…” An average Notre Dame team should have beaten Pitt!!!

    • mtndguy - Nov 13, 2013 at 6:36 PM

      irishdodger, Kelly didn’t put Tommy in that position, the team did. The team did it by not being able to stop the opposing offense. The team did it by not being able to establish a run game. When you’re the QB, the game is on your shoulders. That’s why the QB gets the big bucks in the NFL. That’s why the teams with the great QB’s win games.

    • runners00 - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:47 PM

      Are you sure that Kelly called Rees’ rollout interception? It’s hard to see how that happens. I think that Rees called the play himself but I have no clue. I just — it’s hard to see how Kelly runs that play in, given Rees’ awful history of designed rollouts.

      I don’t think the four-game slide is a foregone conclusion but I think that the seniors on this team are the guys that need to change the story. Together, they all need a much better game against BYU than they had against Pitt. The tackling was awful last week. I mean, there were much better efforts in Kelly’s first year — from a defensive perspective — than they were last week.

      • nudeman - Nov 14, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        Not sure who called it, coaches or Rees. But here’s something else that will make your blood boil:
        Pass was to Chris Brown who has the lowest catch rate (40%) of all the WRs, but worse …
        TJ Jones was on the bench for that play.

        Let’s just make it as hard as possible on ourselves.

  3. dbldmr - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    I wouldn’t trade the condition of the program today for that of four years ago. There is undeniable progress. On the other hand it would be impossible to ignore the current reality. When you think of SEC football you think about rugged defense. Wisconsin, irrespective of coach, runs the football. Oregon kills with speed (yes, I know that Stanford beat the crap out of them). Stanford looks like old-school football, fullback and tailback. What is Notre Dame’s hallmark?

    The loss at Pittsburgh didn’t make me want to jump off a building. After watching the performance against Navy I kind of expected it. I’m not off the Kelly bandwagon; I’m going to look at this year as an aberration. Next year is critical. If we continue on the 7 to 8 win trajectory then last year will be the outlier and Kelly will be facing a winter of discontent in 2014.

    • jimbasil - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      Good post.

      Symbolically, Kelly still hasn’t kicked the Field Goal.

  4. redyellowgold - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    I actually think we’re going to beat BYU. When you give a team like ND an insulting loss like that, that might just be the kind of bloody nose to amp up their game. I remember that happened after the “not my guys” comment, and the next week ND kicked the pants off of their next opponent. BYU is beatable. It’s tempting to rain down expletives after stuff like Pitt but in my experience of this team, they can get back up after bad losses and surprise us.

    And in spite of all those stories I shared earlier, and despite the grueling loss to Pitt, I still think Kelly should stay. Realistically speaking he’s probably the best we could get, and the last thing we need is another revolving door at the head coach position. Pitt is one game — yes a bad one but keeping in mind that we could finish 9-3 with our second-string QB and depleted defense that’s not bad. I think I’ve changed my mindset a bit… What I was originally hoping for in an ND coach (a respectful and admirable role model on and off the field, while also winning games like crazy) might just be an unrealistic option, especially given how money/media-driven this game is becoming.

    By the way, I have no illusions of being some kind of investigative reporter. I stand the by stuff I said, the sources I know are legit to me, and I’m not going to name names because that would get people in trouble. But honestly, none of that stuff has any bearing whatsoever on things — there is no one of any real strategic importance who reads these blogs. I guess I was just genuinely interested to hear what other ND football fans had to say about those stories. Needless to say, your responses were interesting!

    Go Irish

    • nudeman - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      Thought you took some unnecessary crap there.
      Is there a new rule now that no negative info can be posted? That is 4HL Cesspool stuff
      If anyone disagrees, fine. We can still be friends.
      But expecting redyellow to “name his sources” … ridiculous.

      • ndgoldandblue - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:45 AM

        I’m getting that vibe too, nude. Critical comments seem to be met with a lot of vitriol. It reminds me of “The Nuge” and his love it or leave it spiel.

        As for the 4HL, I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been to that site. I used to check out Rock’s House, though. That place would be the antithesis of the 4HL from what you describe. Any positive comments over there are met with insults even more venomous. That place is misery incarnate. I prefer a healthy balance of optimism mixed with objective criticism. This board has been very good for that.

  5. domer61 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    The Pitt game did not change my opinion about Kelly but confirmed it. He may not have the right stuff to take Notre Dame to an elite level. He can recruit, yes. But can he coach against the best? He’ll have a chance to answer that against Stanford. Last season may have been an anomaly. Take away that 12-1 record and he has a winning but not inspiring record.

  6. mediocrebob - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    BK is the best thing to happen to Notre Dame football in a long time. I know a lot of people disagree but those people also wouldn’t be able to give you a realistic answer to who the better option would be.

    Kelly was dealt an unfortunate hand with Golson being ineligible for the season and the injuries that have piled up. That’s not an excuse for a loss to Pitt, however just facts.

    The guy is a winner and I have all the confidence in the world in the direction the team is heading. They play hard for him and the players individually develop during their 4 years in South Bend. I’m excited for the future of this program with BK. I hope he’s around for a long time

    Go Catholics. Beat Mormons.

    • mtndguy - Nov 13, 2013 at 7:03 PM

      I agree mediocrebob. BK has ND positioned better than they have been since Holtz.

      • nudeman - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:22 AM

        I agree about BK, but have concerns where none existed a couple years ago. The positives still outweigh the negatives, but here’s what concerns me:

        - GAME PLANNING: ND’s offensive line and RBs are arguably top10 in all of CFB. Tommy Rees is a poor QB. But ND has had 5 games this year where they’ve thrown the ball 30+ times (if you count OK, where they were on pace for that but only had 24 min of possession). I’ve heard all the explanations (“It’s a game situation thing”) but to me this comes down to one thing: Kelly and Martin have not been able to control their pass-first mentality despite the roster makeup that screams it’s a bad idea. GRADE: C-

        GAME MANAGEMENT: I don’t want to overreact to the silly decisions against Pitt, including turning down that one penalty. But that combined with throwing the ball all over the place like we have Elway back there, and the inability to make in game adjustments to control the option of bottom feeders like Navy make me wonder, in the words of Lombardi “what the hell is going on out there?”
        GRADE: C

        ROSTER: I know BK is at practice every day and we’re not, so I’m out on a ledge here. But why do guys like Farley and Jackson STILL have starting jobs? Why has Hendrix regressed so badly? We heard all spring and summer about Amir and his great “burst”, yet they’ve been unable to come up with anything to take advantage of him. Why does Folston look great one week and get 4 carries the next? Why does Robinson look like there is no pass he can’t catch, yet he’s now apparently in the witness protection program? There are always issues like this on every team, but there are too many here for me to feel like he’s making the right decisions.
        GRADE: C+

        DEMEANOR: OK, I realize many think this is no big deal. But I do. When I’m getting criticized for writing something critical on a blog because it might scare off recruits, then it’s fair to for me to say purple facing players on national TV isn’t a good thing. Interestingly, the only guy who doesn’t get purple faced is Rees. Did you see BK kneeling in front of him, calmly explaining “No Tommy, it’s not a good idea to throw into double coverage” after his 2nd INT? Funny, if it was GAIII who didn’t lower his pads or Carlo who missed a tackle or Cam for missing the hole we’d have seen a nuclear explosion. Tommy … not so much. So tired of the kid gloves treatment he’s received for 4 years now.
        GRADE: D-

        QB MANAGEMENT: This is tough, because he was dealt a poor hand with EG getting the boot and Zaire coming down with mono. But as Eric Hansen wrote the other day, the decision to double down and go all in with Rees isn’t above scrutiny. The fact that Hendrix is actually WORSE now than at any previous time is at least part on Kelly and Martin. His confidence is shattered to the point I’m not sure he’s reliable now in any game situation. He hasn’t improved a bit in 4 years; and there’s no debate whether he’s regressed. He’s Ron Powlus X 2. At the beginning of the year, after hearing nothing but weeks of platitudes on ZAIRE, we ALL thought he’d play some this year. He’s been over his mono for weeks, but the red shirt remains on. That’s nice for 4 years from now when he’ll still be eligible, but it means next year ND will have ONE QB who’s ever taken a snap assuming Golson comes back (I see no scenario where Hendrix returns). I think it would have been wise to get Zaire snaps in every game, even if it’s garbage time. As for who’s got a year of eligibility to play QB 4 years from now, cross that bridge when you come to it. BK prob won’t even be here then.
        GRADE: C-

      • mediocrebob - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:47 AM

        Mostly agree. And although Jackson has had a rough year, I have absolutely no idea how Mathias Farley is still on the field. Like you said, we aren’t there everyday. But the guy is consistently missing tackles and out of position. I really hope that one of the young safeties takes over in the spring. If not, the Irish are in some trouble.

      • mtndguy - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:22 AM

        nude for what it’s worth, here’s my reply:

        Game planning: It is game situation that is driving the play calling. The defense can’t stop the opposing offense. ND is behind the 8 ball too often, and the run game hasn’t been as effective as expected this year, mainly due to the loss of Wood and Ridick and the fact that nobody has stepped up to take their place.

        Game management: The second half, ND couldn’t run the ball, thus the need to throw it. I don’t remember the stats, but I think it was 6 carries for 11 yards. Had ND continued to run with those results it may well have been 3 and out the rest of the game.

        Roster: You’re right, we don’t see practice everyday, so I’m assuming that there isn’t a better substitute for Farley or Jackson. Amir has had some chances, and frankly he’s unimpressive. He drops balls that are clearly catch able. You have to do the most with the opportunities you get, and Amir hasn’t. Folston looked great against Air Force, let’s face it, Air Force sucked. They were undersized, and our line dominated them making big holes. I agree, he looked good, but put it into perspective.

        Demeanor: Get over it Nude. Maybe, just maybe the demeanor that puts you off, is the demeanor that motivates other people to succeed. It’s possible. It’s been pointed out numerous times that BK is no different than many other successful coaches, so like it or not, it seems to be part of the make up of many successful coaches, BK included.

        QB management: How in the world is it possible to say that Hendrix looks worse than ever? We’ve barely seen him play at all during his time at ND. My guess is there’s a reason he’s never been considered for the starting QB role. Besides I don’t think that Hendrix is a victim here, he obviously hasn’t been doing everything he can as a player to get better. I think even you could have completed one of those passes he missed.

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      Agree, with one hypothetical exception. If the ND brass could throw a bunch of money at any coach they wanted and bring him to Notre Dame, my guess is that coach wouldn’t be Brian Kelly. He’d be top-five, but Saban and Meyer would probably top the list. But those guys aren’t going anywhere. The best available coach is the one they’ve already got. No need to replace him. That doesn’t mean the coordinator positions shouldn’t be reevaluated, but getting rid of BK for some unproven (or probably worse) coach would be lunacy.

      • harrystone - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        Here we disagree about CBK if I understand your comment correctly. Kelly is not one of the top 5 coaches in the nation. In the current automatic qualifying BCS conferences, I have my doubts that he would be in the top 5 of those coaches.

  7. elkona - Nov 13, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    Kelly’s affinity for Rees is pretty simple. Rees is better than the alternatives, and Rees has STONES. He’s not great and sometimes he’s not even good, but he’s unfadeable. Crist wasn’t. Hendrix, obviously not. Kelly has said this publicly. Rees’ main asset is that he doesn’t let his limitations and occasional suckiness prevent him from going out there and performing most of the time, which in quarterbacking is a huge asset.

  8. romanekap - Nov 13, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Perusing some of the backrooms and blogs after last Saturday’s game seemed to give the impression that the loss was predominantly on the shoulders of Kelly, that this was unacceptable, and that the sooner he is gone, the better. On some level I get that, but he also didn’t throw two interceptions, fumble in the red zone, or decide not to pick up a live ball. Did he give up on the run too early? Perhaps, but outside of a couple plays in the first half, it wasn’t like we were getting 5 or 6 yds a carry on 1st down either.

    BK has his flaws. I don’t understand the Jumbotron argument (though I do get the field turf one), I hate all the play checking at the line of scrimmage (we play much better when we dictate tempo), and he was outcoached (or at least out prepared) for the BCS championship game last year. However, I think he is an excellent coach, and there is no one I would rather have leading ND football. That includes Saban and Meyer, who while phenomenal coaches, I personally believe have some serious character flaws.

    ND is not an easy place to win, and there are more challenges to overcome than say at an SEC school. That doesn’t mean ND can’t win. History has proven otherwise. When I look at more recent history, we are in a much better position now than we were four years ago. We are still filling depth gaps left by Weis, and one could make the argument that with a bit more talent at inside linebacker, a bit more experience at safety, and Golson back in the lineup, we would be right where we need to be. For now, I am still willing to give BK the benefit of the doubt. It is obvious to me that the players buy into his version of the process and believe they will win. Look no further than last year as an example, which I don’t think was an aberration based on his history before ND.

    I was at ND from ’93 (when we knocked off FSU and should have been national champs) to ’97 (Holtz’s last year). For all Holtz is revered now, I am fairly confident when I say the consensus of the students in ’97 was that he had lost his touch and needed to step down. We had lost to Air Force the year before and nearly lost to Navy back when Navy wasn’t as good as they are now and the 40-year streak was intact. I guess my point is to be careful what you wish for. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

    • dsharp86 - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:35 PM

      Correction. Holtz’s last year was ’96, not ’97.

      • ndirish10 - Nov 14, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        Technical correction. Holtz’s last year coaching the Irish was the 1996 season, which technically is the 1996-1997 school year. This is what roman was referring to.

      • dsharp86 - Nov 14, 2013 at 8:30 PM

        No, you’re wrong. His narrative clearly reads like he thinks Holtz coached the ’97 season. Holtz retired at the end of the ’96 season, but romanekap says the consensus of the students in ’97 was that Holtz should step down. That makes no sense to say ’97. He also references Holtz losing to Air Force the year before his last year. He in fact lost to Air Force in ’96, his last year. Look up any biography on Holtz and it’ll say he coached ND from ’86 to ’96. Football seasons are never referenced by academic year. Holtz was gone by ’97 anyway you look at it.

    • runners00 - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      Thank you, Romanekap.

      I’ve had nightmares about Charlie Weis, Ty Willingham and George O’Leary. Let’s not forget where we came from. We spent two years blaming Ty Willingham for Charlie Weis’ losses and things just got worse from there.

      Kelly is a decent person and a good coach. Of course, so far other coaches have had more success than Kelly. Saban has had a much better college career. But let’s not forget this: Saban is 62 years old. He didn’t win his first title until he was 52 years old — when he won for LSU. In 1995 and 1996 and 1997 at Michigan State, he barely broke .500 and during those years, he was about as old as Kelly was when he took over our program. Urban Meyer is a freak who wins everywhere he goes. I can’t explain that other than by saying he is his generation’s Bear Bryant. There are very few of those.

      Kelly will succeed. He’s already had some good wins against Michigan, Oklahoma, USC and Arizona State. But this is a tough year because our defense has had so many injuries and our offense has no starting quarterback. That said, Coach Kelly’s got to manage this offense better and he’s got to inspire the defense. These are tough jobs.

      But no matter what anyone says, Kelly isn’t Charlie Weis. He isn’t Ty Willingham. Both were decent people but they were in over their heads when coaching Notre Dame. Ty had moments where he looked good but then things came crashing down – largely on the recruiting side. Charlie got the recruits but could not coach them well enough to put us in position to win.

      Kelly seems to get good recruits and he seems to give us a chance to win big games. Outside of the Alabama game — when we played a team that had God knows how many NFL players on it — Kelly’s coached pretty well.

  9. jem5b - Nov 13, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    Kell has lifted the Irish into a position of dominance, it has not been exhibited in the play of the team.
    We all understand that ND is the bogey on every teams schedule, but you’re putting that Gold helmet on for 12 games a year.
    Tommy Reese has done wonders, but there are more talented options on the offense to rely on, and that seems to be the most frustrating part of this season.
    Kell’s 4th year, and it seems every game was winnable. Shrugging my shoulders as I recall the Alabama game, totally unprepared.

    • nudeman - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      Tommy Rees has “done wonders”?
      Come on, that is just ridiculous and the type of hyperbole re: this guy that is maddening.
      Like someone calling him the “greatest ND man ever” on another board.
      To be the “greatest ND man ever”, we start by looking at your arrest record.
      Ooops

      Beats teams like Navy, AF, Maryland, Army, Purdue and this year an MSU team with a really bad offense
      He loses regularly to good teams and throws INTs in bunches
      This is the University of Notre Dame we’re talking about; not Northern Illinois University
      He is a bad quarterback. Stop the insanity

      Speaking of which, did anyone see Jordan Lynch last night?
      With an Irish name, from Mt. Carmel in Chicago and a PERFECT spread QB.
      When he runs the ball he reminds me of Eric Crouch from Nebraska
      I realize he was a graduating HS senior the year the Weis/Kelly transition was happening
      But how did ND miss out on him?

      • viktory2013 - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        Well put sir. Sometimes I marvel at the Svengali effect this kid’s mediocrity seems to have over fans and media; listening to all the praise lavished on this division III level boy, I often wonder who exactly it is they’re watching…particularly after I flip the channel and see Lynch, Winston, or Manziel. Who knows, with his mesmerizing skills he’ll probably end up president someday…he ended up starting qb at Notre Dame for 3 years so any thing’s possible.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:30 PM

        the crouch comparison is spot on.

        crouch was a beast of a college player and lynch is an even more effective passer than crouch, though it is a bit apples to oranges given the offenses and conferences being different.

  10. goirishgo - Nov 13, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    My opinion of BK is no different after the Pitt game than it was before. He has resurrected a moribund program and returned it to national prominence. A good hire who recruits well, represents ND well, and gets things done (like contracts for Diaco and Martin).

    My only bone to pick has been the same all year. We need to run the ball more. Not running enough puts too much on Rees’ plate and doesn’t run clock which puts pressure on a banged up and not very effective defense.

  11. runners00 - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    I begin by pointing the crowd to Lambeau Field. Since 1992, the Packers have had two quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers and Brett Farve. Now, they didn’t always have a remarkable record -2005 for example was bad- but having a talented quarterback who was clearly a starter worked for them. Since Rodgers was injured a couple of weeks ago, they’ve been beaten by some pretty mediocre opponents. Starting quarterbacks are important. Losing ours was huge.

    So, Kelly lost a big player in Golson. How did he react? He has actually done pretty well, all things considered. I mean Michigan State and Arizona State were tough wins. Both teams have had good seasons. We didn’t play Michigan very well and we started too slowly against Oklahoma. But we were in both games. Pitt’s a tough loss because we are better than they are – we just played poorly and played with fear instead of passion. We played as badly against Pitt as we did against Alabama – perhaps worse. But we do have a ton of injuries, particularly on defense. These have taken a toll.

    In the end, Kelly is a good coach. We are lucky we have him. But this is another key period, where we need to go out and play with passion and enthusiasm and heart. And we need to blow out BYU.

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      Perhaps losing Golson was huge, but Kelly sure didn’t let on that it was. Before the season, BK talked about Tommy’s leadership and knowledge of the offense. He talked about how Tommy could do things, pre-snap, that Everett couldn’t do, and because of those mental tangibles that Tommy possesses, this offense was going to be improved from last year. And maybe it has. I’m not sure of the statistics, but that’s what we all heard from the coaches and the players.

      My point is, no one on the team was making excuses when Everett got suspended. In fact, the team believed that they would be better with Tommy at the helm. So we shouldn’t make excuses either. All this talk about Kelly and Martin doing their best with a backup is pointless. Tommy wasn’t a step down in their minds.

      Besides, I’m not so sure that Golson’s return will bring about all kinds of positive changes in the offense. Watt, Martin, and TJ will be gone next year. Plus, Everett’s been out of the game, trying to improve without pads and a defense to contend with. I’ll be positively surprised if there’s no regression. But…I am hopeful because the guy gets to work with the team in the spring, so that’s a silver lining, I guess.

      • runners00 - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        What were they supposed to say? “We think the loss of Everett Golson is huge for us. We have no starting quarterback.”

        If Tommy wasn’t a step down in their minds, why wasn’t Tommy at the helm last year?

        Golson brings the mobility and spontaneity that Rees lacks because Golson can do things that Rees cannot. That’s why Kelly started Golson last year.

      • nudeman - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:14 PM

        1. The idea that Rees wasn’t a step down is in the same category with “we didn’t abandon the run in the 2nd half” vs. Pitt. This was said after they ran the ball 6 times in the second half. Also in the same category:
        - I did not have sex with that woman
        - I could not, would not, and did not murder my wife and Ron Goldman
        - I have never used PEDs
        - Honest
        - There was no bullying going on. Me and Jonathan are cool.
        - We’re gonna find those WMDs
        - We’re gonna change the regime
        - We’re gonna drain the swamp
        - Mission Accomplished
        - You’ll love Dallas, Mr. President

        2. Rees audibiling, Every. Single. Play. BK, you’re telling me that’s a GOOD thing? Jesus …

        3. Tommy Rees has 8 multiple INT games in his career. He has 4 this year. Yep, coming along nicely.

      • ndgoldandblue - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        runner, the platitudes that the coaches and players heaped upon Tommy before the season weren’t just soundbites you throw out to the media, and I guarantee that, if Tommy went down now, you wouldn’t hear the same coachspeak for Andrew.

        And about Everett from last season, he got yanked for Tommy as late as the Pitt game. Not really a ringing endorsement from his coach.

        All I’m saying is that a lot of posters have stated that Coach Kelly was dealt some sort of sh*tty hand because he lost his starting quarterback. BK probably didn’t feel that way.

      • don74 - Nov 14, 2013 at 6:34 PM

        Nude,

        Good list…

        Disagree with #2. Kelly’s been trying to get TR to stop with the presnap stuff. He wants him to “call it and haul it”. During the Pitt game BK called a TO to avoid a delay of game and “coached” TR. TR is not changing the play as much as the blocking…..it drives Kelly crazy as it does the rest of us.

      • nudeman - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:24 PM

        Maybe you’re right Don
        I just know that whatever he’s doing he’s just killing the tempo

  12. padomer - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Yea I’ve been reading some of the comments recently, and while at this point it is certainly fair to question and criticize BK, but calling for his head and speculation of unknowable things are a bit much in my humble opinion. Perhaps it was the manner in which we lost that is causing so much frustration, and the fresh sting of the immediate aftermath. I’ll tell ya, i don’t know if it’s because ND is my favorite team by far in any sport that sways my opinion, but every time we lose, we lose in the most painful/gut-wrenching fashion. It’s like, when other teams lose, are their losses as painful as these? It’s almost like we lose games the way the cowboys do. But this leads me to my point…we can pick from dozens of mishaps that directly lost us that game. To me, it is not that BK is in over his head, not the right fit, doesn’t have player support, isn’t an ND guy, etc…instead, literally because of the interception in the endzone, the other interception, TJ’s fumble, Tuitt gettin tossed, the day/schmidt debacle (although even if they did scoop and score I think it would have been overturned and ruled incomplete pass, tuck rule i believe eh?), etc., right any one of those mistakes and we probably win. There is a fine line between ugly wins and ugly losses and an amazing range of emotion between the two.

  13. padomer - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    Also, I give BK credit…this is a verrrrry flawed team. I think many other coaches would go 7-6 with this team with everything being equal (amount of injuries, timing of injuries, limited QB play that limits the offense, etc). Not to beat a dead-horse but Rees handicaps this offense and the potential of Kelly’s offensive vision. Still, to BK’s credit and to Tommy himself, they have somehow squeezed about as much as they possibly could have with what the both of them had to work with. I think that is highly praise-worthy considering Rees’ well documented flaws. Moreover, Rees and a EG playing big time for the first time is all he has had throughout his tenure. Obviously this fact isn’t a top secret, but it is definitely something that cannot be repeated too many times.

  14. padomer - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    ^ for example, I think Jimmy Clausen would put up Kevin Sumlin quarterback numbers in BK’s version.

  15. rocket1988 - Nov 14, 2013 at 4:20 AM

    Everyone wants to talk about abondoning the run game. How about how Watt handled Aaron Donald on one good leg? This team would have 7 losses with Brady Hoke as it’s coach.

  16. raymund15 - Nov 14, 2013 at 6:36 AM

    As far as disappointment with coaching this game is concerned, on a scale from 1 to 10, this game ranks right up there at a big 10 together with the Tulsa game in 2011.
    Also, I must admit I’m losing faith in BK for the first time since he was named HC at ND. It feels like a sort of tipping point, like from now on we’re on a course that cannot be changed and will lead to his dismissal.
    EG was, is and will be a better QB than TR. Even so, EG NEEDED a running game last year to be able to win the games that he won (hell, he even needed a relief effort from TR from time to time). So why doesn’t BK understands that if he wants to give TR an honest chance, he NEEDS to establish a running game?

    • harrystone - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      CBK is a fine 10-2 coach and will serve ND well for a very long time. His offense is not really designed to be a running offense and certainly not a power offense. That was what so interesting about last year team. It had a power defense and a finesse offense something you do not see very often.

  17. c4evr - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Why does everybody point to EG as being the main difference this year?? Even with EG last year, that team with this year’s defense still loses 3 games, maybe 4 (UM, Pitt, BYU, and Stanford). And at least some of TR’s picks are on Kelly when he has Rees throwing from inside the 3 yard line. But anybody at this point still blaming Weis has got to get a grip. Even Obama gets no more mileage blaming Bush. It only weakens your argument.

    • runners00 - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      I haven’t read any comments about anyone blaming Weis. And anyone who blames Weis needs to have their head examined. This is Coach Kelly’s fourth year. Most good coaches need one year to integrate their system of fundamentals — blocking, tackling and the like.

      What shocks me, actually, is that there are starters like Dan Fox and Mathias Farley who continue to misread simple offensive sets. One Foot Down has had some great video footage of both the Navy and Pitt games and it’s very clear that this defense is arrogant or it’s highly incompetent. I mean, on several occasions Pitt moved two or three players right to left before a snap — and the Irish made no adjustments before the snap. Not surprisingly, the plays yielded seven or eight yards on the ground. Perhaps T’eo’s departure was more meaningful than we’ve been led to believe. But I think it’s more than that: I think the defense just lacks football intelligence. And they miss tackle after tackle. Perhaps that’s on Kelly.

  18. 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    two points that may be interesting to kick around today:

    (1) I read that on the last drive, Hanratty was brought in for Elmer because Elmer has a tendency to “be too aggressive.” BK pointed out that because he’ so aggressive, he tends to get a bit ahead of himself, to paraphrase. what does that mean? is it a matter of his technique being a bit raw/flawed, or is that BK was afraid of him getting a personal foul?

    (2) Is it too unrealistic to try to turn ND into a pass-first football team, for no other reason than the climate in South Bend and current field conditions? My reference point is SEC teams that throw it a ton, and other teams that either play on turf or in consistently warmer/drier climates than ND. If half of the schedule is played in South Bend, and the other half of the games playing in the cold/rain, is feasible to structure the offense around throwing it 40-50 times every game, even if the QB is a solid, proven passing qb? is there a team outside the SEC/PAC-12 and that plays in similar cold/rain/wind/snow that throws the ball 40-50 times a game and has had sustained or any success doing it?

    if this seems like a silly, academic question, it’s only because i’m not ready to think about how long the off-season will be if this season ends on a 3-game slide into crapville.

  19. bearcatirishfan - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Here’s another academic question for ya. If Nd bets byu and looses to Stanford and the teams finishes 8-4, which is what most (including myself) predicted was a completely likely outcome without EG, can we really say Kelly isn’t living up to expectations since that was the expectation?

  20. regionirish - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    There have been a lot of great points made about BK today.

    Here is summary of where I believe we are with BK…..

    Do I think it’s fair to call for his head right now?
    No way. He has been dealt a crap hand this season: EG, injuries, and some bad breaks/calls.

    Things that must change going forward/next season:
    1. BK can’t continue to be out coached consistently, let alone average coaches

    2. Last year the leadership on the team was so strong that the team bought into BK because the likes of Manti, Zeke, and Tyler did. This year with a lot of new faces and poor leadership, I think some on the team honestly can’t stand Kelly. BK needs to work on that aspect of coaching.

    3. Kelly needs to provide more focus on Defense. It’s now clear both Bob is not as good as a coach as we thought and outside of Jaylon and maybe Max the D has been neglected recruiting wise.

    4. Every off season Kelly says special teams will improve. Last year he said Bama taught him to play his starters on special teams. Well BK I hate to tell you but that alone does not provide good special teams play. If you don’t care about special teams the players won’t care.

    5. I think when Kelly preaches mental toughness he means he wants player mentally tough enough to stand there on national TV and have BK scream in there face. How about this Brian instead of using your next man in slogan for injures…Try when a player makes a significant mistake don’t embarrass them, maybe try sitting them down and putting one of the other players for more than 3 or 4 plays, ever heard of a group of plays called a series or a drive.

    I could continue on but I will save it for now…..I am not sure BK can make these changes because he seems set in his ways, but I think he surely earned the right for a few more years.

    • nudeman - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      1. Agree, but how does this change? He’s constantly saying “I have 22 years …” Not sure how open minded he is. Best thing would be a shake up of asst. coaches. Some new blood is needed.

      2. Hugely agree. Next year I’d expect Jaylon to emerge as a leader. As for antipathy toward BK, I wrote that earlier this week and got universally panned for it.

      3. I’m not ready to throw out Diaco. Tough year with graduation and injuries.

      4. No idea wtf the issue here is. None. Stupefying.

      5. Except for Rees, no one is immune from being purple faced. Don’t get that either.

      • ndgoldandblue - Nov 14, 2013 at 4:01 PM

        nude and region, about your first points, I’d have to agree. I just wonder what would happen if Kelly brought in a different offensive coordinator–perhaps one that uses a different offensive approach (pro-style maybe)–and gave him complete control of the offense. I’m not saying things would be improved, but it might be an experiment worth doing.

      • regionirish - Nov 14, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        ndgoldandblue

        Like Nude said BK often refers to his 22 years of coaching, and how he has done things historically. I don’t think BK is at the point in his career where is going to bring in a new OC to run a different type of offense than he is used to. I could be wrong but I don’s see that happening. If you remember last year the offense had a much better time of possession and run/pass balance and when they asked Kelly about it he said it was because he had a good defense and did not want to turn the ball over with a new QB (EG). I think that was great logic. However this year the D is below average, but I still think that means we should run the ball even more (if within a few scores of course).

        Any person in their right mind can see that Kelly “pulls the ripcord to early” in games and goes to an air attack when running the ball can still lead to productive drives.

  21. goirishgo - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Off topic but I just checked out Rivals Top 100. Of that 100, 66 have committed. Of those 66, 34 have committed to an SEC school. Unbelievable that one conference has gotten more than half of the top committed recruits in the country.

    Closer to home, ND has three commits among that group of 66. I didn’t count by team but it’s probably top 5 AND significantly counter to the SEC trend.

    BK has improved this program dramatically and the future looks bright.

    • regionirish - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      goirishgo

      I appreciate the statistical analysis. Are we better off than before BK? Yes.

      Is BK the coach to consistently have ND in the top 25? To be determined….

    • harrystone - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:54 PM

      Actually you should not find what the SEC is doing surprising at all. Normal about 70% of any recruiting service list of top 100 HS seniors are from the south and Texas. Given the SEC is the dominate conference in the south and in Texas it is only logical more player would sign with SEC schools. Add to this number those HS seniors from California and you have close to 80%+ of the top 100. That does not leave a lot of the top 100 for the remaining conferences and schools. More important is once these players are signed how are they developed.

  22. dapperdanirish - Nov 14, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    For what it’s worth, I received a personal email reply today to my email inquiry to the ACC on Monday regarding the Tuitt targeting call from the officials. It is pasted below:

    ” Thank you for your email, it has been read by our Coordinator of Football Officials. He has deemed both the targeting flag and ejection to be warranted

    The play was reviewed in the booth and replay determined that the call stood as targeting. The five angles we have showing the play confirm that the correct call was made.  Unless there is indisputable video evidence beyond all doubt, the play cannot be reversed.

    Tuitt led with his helmet and the official threw the flag for targeting and ejected Tuitt from the game. A booth review determined the play should “stand”…. as one of the replay reviews showed the contact by Tuitt was initiated with the crown of his helmet.  The rule states you cannot target any player  (not “defenseless” in this case, but a runner) by initiating contact with the crown of the helmet, regardless of where the contact occurs.  The fact the offensive player (Pitt QB) lowered his head is irrelevant, as it doesn’t matter if he is hit in the helmet—because the foul is created by the defender using the crown of his helmet to hit him anywhere. There is no “helmet to helmet” language in the rule.

    Thank you for your support of the Atlantic Coast Conference and its member institutions.

    Atlantic Coast Conference”

    • mtndguy - Nov 15, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      Thanks dapperdanirish. All I can say is “morons”.

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