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Pregame Six Pack: Send off at Stanford

Nov 29, 2013, 1:45 AM EDT

Tarean Folston AP

The regular season comes to a close on Saturday, with No. 25 Notre Dame visiting No. 8 Stanford. The Irish will have a chance to beat four ranked opponents on the season, though pulling off a victory in Palo Alto will be the biggest win on a season that certainly had its ups and downs.

While we may hear plenty of talk about revenge for Stanford after last season’s 20-13 overtime defeat, Cardinal head coach David Shaw talked about the missed opportunities more than any controversies.

“In the end, the opportunities that were there for us to make, we didn’t make, the opportunities for Notre Dame to make, they made,” Shaw said. “And besides that last play of the game, that was the real difference in the game.”

Of course, it wasn’t a perfect game for the Irish, either. Everett Golson turned the ball over three times on fumbles (matching this season’s total), with one turning into Stanford’s only touchdown. But after Golson went out of the game after a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit, Tommy Rees rallied the Irish, completing all four passing attempts, including the game winner in overtime.

There will be no margin for error for the Irish this weekend, with two starters missing from the offensive line and Louis Nix watching from the sideline. But that’s why they play the game.

Let’s get to this weekend’s pregame six pack. As usual, here are six tidbits, fun facts, leftovers or miscellaneous musings before Saturday evening’s Notre Dame-Stanford game.

***

Never considered a tough place to play, heading to The Farm is no walk in the park anymore. 

If the Irish are going to knock off Stanford, they’ll be doing it in one of the toughest places to win in college football. The Cardinal have lost twice this season, but not on their home turf, with Stanford’s 15-game home winning streak the second longest in college football, one game behind South Carolina.

Since the Irish beat the Cardinal in Stanford Stadium as two mediocre three-win teams battled in 2007, Stanford has won 36 of 39 home games since then. Those wins aren’t just coming against cupcakes either.

Stanford is 12-1 at home against ranked opponents, including 4-1 against teams in the top ten. Their last home loss to a ranked team came against No. 6 Oregon in 2011.

***

After pitching a shutout against some pretty impressive competition, fifth-year left tackle Zack Martin has one more tough assignment this weekend. 

When Martin takes the field against Stanford, he’ll become the all-time leader for most career starts at Notre Dame, a record that won’t likely be beat any time soon. But for as impressive as Martin’s iron man streak is, his play this season has been just as good.

In this week’s game notes, the Notre Dame sports information department points out some of the very impressive talent the Irish have faced this year. Kyle Van Noy (BYU), Aaron Donald (Pitt), Shilique Calhoun (MSU), Leonard Williams (USC) and Frank Clark (Michigan) have combined for 77 TFLs and 31 sacks this season. Matched up against Martin, they’ve had just three TFLs and zero sacks.

Saturday, Stanford outside linebacker Trent Murphy brings another sizable challenge to the table, the nation’s leading quarterback sacker with 13. Last year, Murphy was dominant. While he might not be matched up with Martin all game, keeping Murphy in check with be key for the Irish.

Just how tough is Murphy? Well, he might just come from a long line of giants. His 52-year-old dad can still rep 225 pounds 25 times on the bench press. He wrestled a 400-pound steer calf for fun in high school. The fifth-year veterans will be ones to watch on Saturday.

***

One season after giving up the sport for professional baseball, the Irish will have to slow down running back Tyler Gaffney. 

Stuck behind Stephan Taylor for the past few seasons, Tyler Gaffney started for three seasons as an outfield for Stanford’s nationally-ranked baseball program. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 24th round, Gaffney said goodbye to his senior season of football, leaving the program for the minor leagues, where he put together an impressive 2012 season, hitting .297, with a .483 OBP in low-A State College.

But Gaffney came back to the football program, taking an unique redshirt season before putting his baseball career on hold as he returned in the spring to compete for the starting running back job.

“I weighed out my options down to the smallest details,” Gaffney told SI.com. “Getting your degree, being part of this team, being able to play football, is outweighing staying on the baseball team. It pretty much opens up three options rather than just one.”

Those options have only gotten more impressive, as Gaffney has been dominant this season, running for 1,296 yards and 16 touchdowns while going over 100 yards seven times this season, including a Herculean effort against Oregon, where he carried the ball 45 times.

Matched up against a really thin Irish defensive front, Gaffney will likely be the weapon of choice for David Shaw, and it’ll be up to the Irish front seven to limit the Doak Walker Award semifinalist.

***

After saying goodbye to some elite tight end talent, the Irish duo of Troy Niklas and Ben Koyack have turned in impressive seasons. 

For two programs that have produced a ton of good tight end talent lately, that Troy Niklas and Ben Koyack have turned into the most productive duo in college football certainly is a positive development this season for Notre Dame. 

After wondering how Notre Dame was going to replace All-American and Mackey Award winner Tyler Eifert, the Irish have shown exactly how. Take a look at the numbers over the past two seasons through 11 games:

Tyler Eifert: 40 catches for 555 yards (13.9 avg.) and 4 TDs
Troy Niklas/Ben Koyack
: 35 catches for 556 yards (15.9 avg.) and 8 TDs

Not since 1958, when Monty Stickles, Gary Meyers, Dick Royer and Bob Wetoska caught 10 touchdowns have the Irish tight ends scored more touchdowns than this season. With Niklas, Koyack and potentially Alex Welch returning next season, there’s plenty to look forward to at the position.

***

With another season finale in California, Notre Dame’s commitment to the West coast is critical. 

With scheduling dynamics forever changed because of Notre Dame’s commitment to five ACC games moving forward, two sets of games the Irish aren’t interested in losing are the series with USC and Stanford.

The Irish have committed to finishing their season in California, alternating years between USC and Stanford, a nice Thanksgiving trip away from South Bend. But it’s also a great way to continue building a roster that depends on California talent. The Irish played three games against the Pac-12 this year, the most since 2009.

Eleven members of the Irish, including seven scholarship players, are California natives. And finishing the season on the West Coast allows the Irish coaching staff to recruit the state before heading back, giving Mike Denbrock a chance to drop in on prospects like Tyler Luatua.

With Stanford, USC and UCLA all playing good football, it’s tough mining a state that’s one of the most talent-rich in the country. But it’s a commitment the Irish staff have made and continue to cash in on, with 2015 quarterback Blake Barnett the latest.

***

Injuries on defense have forced the depth chart to improve. 

Entering the season finale, 17 different players have started a game for the Irish. While injuries have decimated the team, they’ve also forced a lot of different people to see action. Let’s take a look at the 24 different players on the Irish roster to make at least 10 tackles this season (with that number potentially growing on Saturday).

Carlo Calabrese – 76
Dan Fox – 75
Jaylon Smith – 56
Bennett Jackson – 56
KeiVarae Russell – 47
Stephon Tuitt – 42
Matthias Farley – 41
Jarrett Grace – 41
Prince Shembo – 40
Austin Collinsworth – 28
Sheldon Day 27
Louis Nix – 27
Eilar Hardy – 25
Elijah Shumate – 23
Kona Schwenke – 20
Ben Councell – 15
Cole Luke – 15
Joe Schmidt – 14
Kendall Moore – 14
Jarron Jones – 14
Ishaq Williams – 13
Romeo Okwara – 13
Isaac Rochell – 10
Max Redfield – 10

Notre Dame hasn’t reached that milestone in over 50 years, when 29 different tacklers made 10 stops or more in 1962. These numbers are a product of some serious damage done to the two-deep depth chart, with 11 different players that opened the year in the two-deep having missed at least two games. (Those numbers don’t count guys like Danny Spond, Tony Springmann or Chase Hounshell, either.)

A stat like this is a big reason the Irish might not pull out a victory on Saturday evening, especially if the Stanford ground game finds its rhythm. But this season’s bad luck could be helpful in the future, with next year’s defense building experience early.

  1. NotreDan - Nov 29, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    GO IRISH!

    Beat the cardinals.

    • 31sorin - Nov 29, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      There are Cardinals in St Louis, Arizona and numerous other cities, but not in Palo Alto.

      • NotreDan - Nov 29, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        REALLY? I wasn’t aware of that.

        There’s one every year.

  2. viktory2013 - Nov 29, 2013 at 5:30 AM

    Stanford looked lost and inept against Utah and SC, was staggering against Washington at the end, and was thoroughly beaten by ASU in the second half, so spare us any pretensions of invincibility. Their claim to fame was thumping Oregon, much less noteworthy after Arizona slapped them around. David Shaw is vastly overrated and has been living off Harbaugh’s leftovers. Curious to see how Stanford fares now that last remnants of the previous regime graduates. They’re big, tough kids but so was MSU and SC. On paper Stanford is better, but as my late dad would say, they don’t play it on paper, they play it on grass. Stay focused, hit them every chance, and don’t make mistakes. Kick their ass sideways.

    • mtndguy - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      I feel your enthusiasm viktory2013, but thoroughly beaten in the second half by ASU? The score was 39-7 through three quarters. ASU scored 21 in the 4th quarter but the game was out of reach by then. Stanford definitely let up a little too much in the 4th, but to say that they were thoroughly beaten in the second half is just not accurate. Maybe thoroughly beaten for 1 quarter. Unfortunately for ASU, they were thoroughly beaten for 3 quarters. Stanford gave them a sound thrashing for most of the game.

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      Good comment, and I agree wholeheartedly. Frankly, I don’t know how a two-loss team (with one of those losses being incredibly damaging) stays in the top ten. And, as you said, with the exception of the Oregon game, their wins haven’t been all that impressive. I guess I’m just a little more optimistic about this game than most (including Keith, apparently, and that’s never happened).

      • mtndguy - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        ndgoldandblue, I’m optimistic buddy! I think we’re going to see the game of the season from Tommy as he rides off into the sunset (or a bowl game).

      • ndgoldandblue - Nov 29, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        Wherever he rides off to, if he plays the game of his life, the townspeople will be waving at him with smiles on their faces.

  3. 700levelvet - Nov 29, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    L…

  4. goirishgo - Nov 29, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    I’m fired up for this game!

    Go Irish!

  5. drdannddad - Nov 29, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    I think it’s really going to boil down to which Standford team shows up on Saturday: The team that lost to Utah and USC, or the one that dominated {for the most part} Oregon. Of course, the same could be said for the Irish. Neither team has much at stake at this point, with their post-season scenarios more or less decided. So this game has more to do with pride and the desire to end the season on a winning note. Go IRISH!

  6. drdannddad - Nov 29, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    Oops! I meant “Stanford”… :(

  7. ndcanuck - Nov 29, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    If the Irish secondary can tackle somebody and Tommy doesn’t turn the ball over ND has a real shot at winning here. But the Cardinal should be favored as ND is thin and banged up severely on D.

    Going to have to outscore them as opposed to hoping the D gets a lot of stops and plays to “keep things in front of them”. To me that’s just asking for Shaw to run it down their throats till they show their lack of depth and fade in the second half. Big Lou will be sorely missed.

    On offense ND will have to run the ball effectively enough to keep them honest and hit some deep passes when the chances are there. One good thing is that the Irish have to be used to playing on a crappy, soggy, slow field at home by now so they shouldn’t be surprised by what they find on the Farm.

  8. yogihilt - Nov 29, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    The home field crowd advantage will be dimmed a little, as most students away for holiday. GO Irish.. just load the wagon, even if the horse is blind

  9. ndfaithful - Nov 29, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    With a challenging and often disappointing season nearly behinde us, it feels like THIS is our bowl game. Stanford has a very solid team and they always play physical and surely have a chip on their shoulder too. They’re playing for a BCS bowl game and for redemption after last year’s loss in South Bend.

    Here’s hoping the guys come out with intensity and attention to detail. Let’s save the best game for last! GO IRISH!

  10. ndfaithful - Nov 29, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    With a challenging and often disappointing season nearly behind us, it feels like THIS is our bowl game. Stanford has a very solid team and they always play physical and surely have a chip on their shoulder too. They’re playing for a BCS bowl game and for redemption after last year’s loss in South Bend.

    Here’s hoping the guys come out with intensity and attention to detail. Let’s save the best game for last! GO IRISH!

  11. irishdodger - Nov 29, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Hearing rumor that Hardy & Shumate will not make the trip due to violation of team rules. If true, that means it’s Collinsworth/Farley or bust.

  12. mtndguy - Nov 29, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if ND is going to win this game, which I think they will, they’ll have to throw the ball. Stanford’s defense is number 3 in the country against the run giving up only 89.5 yards per game. In USC’s win over the Cardinal, they only rushed for 23 yards. Utah was able to establish a run game against Stanford, but they have the threat of a mobile quarterback.

    Stanford’s record against the pass is much less impressive giving up 253 yards per game for 98th in the country.

    This is Tommy’s chance to go out in a blaze of glory. If he can light the Cardinal up for 250-300 yards, then ND has a chance. I know this is counter to many on this board who want ND to run every play, but reality is Stanford isn’t going to give up the run very easily.

    Here’s to Tommy kicking some a** on Saturday.

  13. jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Keith, you’ve done a great job all year and it’s hard to believe the 2013 regular season is already coming to a close. While I enjoy your tidbits and fun facts as much as anyone, I feel that special mention should be given to your miscellaneous musings. You handle those like no other sportswriter I’ve ever read. Kind of reminds me of that time I brought my Grandmother to a baseball game. She really didn’t understand the rules so well and she asked me why that player was walking to first base. I told her he was allowed to walk to first because he had 4 balls. She replied,”Walk proud, mother effer, walk proud.” So Keith, another fine season comes to a close. Walk proud.

    • Keith Arnold - Nov 29, 2013 at 7:16 PM

      Appreciate that one, Art. This season felt like surviving, but it was another fun one.

  14. irishdodger - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Stanford’s pass D isn’t as bad as the numbers indicate. Keep in mind that most of their opponents are playing from behind. Remember the ASU game? If ND is relegated to passing only, then it’s going to get ugly. Tommy will be a sitting duck so he’ll likely set two ND records: most sacks & most picks thrown in one game.

    • mtndguy - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      irishdodger, even in games where either Stanford doesn’t score over 30 points, and/or are close, there is still a huge disparity between the passing yards given up and the rushing yards. In the five games that Stanford scored less than 30 points, they gave up an average of 247 yards in passing versus only 70 yards in rushing.

      If you’re going to attack a weakness with the Cardinal, it’s their passing defense not their rushing defense. It will certainly help the Irish if they can establish a run game as it will open up the pass. Is it likely they’re going to win if that’s what they rely on? It’s highly unlikely as nobody else has been able to do it this year. I’d like to see ND rush for 200+ yards, but since the Cardinal have only given up more than 75 yards in rushing 3 times this year, and only give up 200+ once (against Army), it seems like an uphill battle.

  15. nudeman - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    RUSHING OFFENSE:
    ND 78
    SU 32

    PASSING OFFENSE
    ND 40
    SU 90

    RUSHING D
    ND 68
    SU 3

    PASSING D
    ND 21
    SU 101

    If you go by the numbers, as well as everything I’ve seen when I watch SU, one would think SU will pound it relentlessly and ND will be forced to throw it, as someone has already suggested.

    That has not been a recipe for success with this year’s ND team.
    Will BK and CM panic and abandon the run? I think SU would love that.

    • mtndguy - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      If the run isn’t working, I hope ND does pass it. If ND is one of the few teams that can rush against the Stanford D, then I hope they keep it on the ground. It’s that simple. However, to go into the game open only to rushing the football is to ignore the reality of the season. Only 3 teams have been able to establish a run game against the Cardinal. I hope ND is one of them. If not, then ND is not the only team this year to meet with frustration on the ground, and should try passing it. Is the thought making me jump up and down for joy? No. But I’m mentally preparing myself now in case that’s what transpires on Saturday.

  16. 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    just one bone to pick with this column; the farm being one of the toughest places to win in college football? come on now. i grant you the statistics may make this claim, but the pac-12 stinks. it stinks this year and it has stunk for the last 20 years.

    outside of USC, Stanford and Oregon fairly recently, the rest of the Pac-12 has been a bunch of dogs, so the fact that Stanford beats up on these nobodies who are doing nothing, and San Jose St. to start out the year, is little evidence that the Farm is any more of a hard place to win than is Madison, College Station, Columbus, or any other city not named Tuscaloosa.

    as for predictions for tomorrow, that “slab of granite” that the CA guest writer earlier this week mentioned (stanford’s run defense) will be exposed tomorrow. not so much because ND’s offensive line and backfield are underrated, though they are, but because that slab of granite has made its bones this year on the backs of weak running teams.

    ND will get 250+ yards on the ground, TR will also throw it 30+ times along with another unbelievable pick, but ND wins by a touchdown.

  17. richisirish - Nov 29, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    I have absolutely no data to back this up, but if this game features Tarean Folston running the ball, ND has a chance. Couple that with TJJ and DD getting down field once in while and ND has a good chance. If Niklas or Koyak score at least once touchdown, ND wins, 24-20.

  18. nudeman - Nov 29, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    I am announcing a self imposed sabbatical. Thumbs up just below.

    Final thoughts:
    This was, IMO, a very disappointing year, my faith in BK and staff (some, not all) have been badly shaken, and I have zero confidence that this team can beat a tough team like SU in their own ballpark. None. If you think differently, you’re entitled to your opinion but you’ve been watching a different team than I have all year. Or maybe you think SU is Air Force.

    There is plenty of talent here and ND is filled with 4 and 5 star highly recruited players. But they consistently play down to the level of their competition. Why? Maybe the coaches just pushed the wrong buttons, and maybe the players who needed to step up didn’t. Or maybe both.

    But some of my greatest ND memories have been of coaches and teams with less talent always playing their best when the chips were down. No greater example of that than the ’88 squad going into the Coliseum, a literal house of horrors over the years, against a more talented 10-0 USC team and just beating the hell out of them. I can still see Rodney Peete (God, he was soft) getting smoked by an ND blocker on that pick 6. Lou could get his team up for big games like no one else. BK? No. One game (OK, 2012) in 4 years isn’t exactly a trend.

    Instead we see weird game plans and play calling, squandering timeouts, guys having a great game then practically benched the following week, a backup QB (AH) who’s confidence is so shattered he can’t even complete a pass, flat performances at the worst times, a team that regularly has not been ready to play and has given away entire 1st quarters and halfs, and the purple face. Always someone getting lit up on the sideline. I’ve gone from being a Kelly supporter at a level of 10 on a 10 point to about a 7. And it all started with the half assed prep for the NCG, and then the Eagles interview the next day. This year has felt a lot like 2011. Only worse.

    So tomorrow I’d love to be wrong about all I’ve written. Many here are highly annoyed with my pessimism about this team. Tempted to say “sorry”, but I’m not. I just write what I see and feel and I haven’t liked what I’ve seen and felt this year. And anyone who thinks I have a personal thing with Tommy Rees – wrong.

    Great guy; tries his hardest; good teammate; paperboy; checks us into the right plays.

    Who wouldn’t love a guy like that?

    But maybe it’s time for me to just STFU and let it play out.

    “Guess that’s all there is to say; except the feeling just grows stronger every day;
    Just one thing before I go; take good care baby let me know; let it grow”

    • viktory2013 - Nov 29, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      Mr. Nudeman: Sir, I feel your pain. It’s mostly called Tommy Rees. I sincerely believe with Golson or even Zaire, we’re not having this conversation all season. I’m honestly of the opinion that it does affect the defense, play calling, energy level…I have seen it many times over the decades, but usually only for a season or less. I too have no personal biases against Rees, but when it comes to losing 3 games, I’m downright homicidal.

      In this particular, I’m hoping those kids pull themselves up by the bootstraps and Stanford is as smug and self absorbed as they sound, because that’s usually when you get slapped back to reality. Guess we’ll find out tomorrow, but really hoping we don’t lay an egg; hate to fester all off season on crappy last waltz.

      Oh btw, the pick six was Stan Smagala’s just before the half, and Frank Stams delivered the hit on Peete. In the 4th qtr., Wes Pritchett put a hit on Peete that had him pulling turf from his helmet. Those boys HIT!! Steve Walsh had bandaids all over his face after our game, and Major Harris got his shoulder separated by us. Those were the days.

    • wisner74 - Nov 29, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      I think that you’re a bit too hard on BK, Nude. Once again, he has had to deal with a really large amount of adversity this season. You yourself pointed out how the football gods were with ND last year, but seemed to be lined up against the Irish this year. That’s very true.

      First and foremost, there’s Golson’s mistake. Kiel, who reputedly had decent mobility and a strong arm, would likely have been the starter next, but he had already decided to transfer. So it’s lead-footed Rees, and the offense no doubt had to be completely reworked over the summer to suit him.

      Then there are the extraordinary number of injuries, primarily on defense. Before the season even started you’re down four important guys, Spond, Baratti, Springman and Hounshell. Tuitt was not fully recovered from surgery until midway through the season. Grace, Councell, etc., etc. Did you hear Mike Mayock point out that the starting three on the D-Line (Nix, Tuitt, Day) played together a total of 23 plays? That’s incredibly bad luck. On offense there have been many less injuries, but we lost Lombard a few weeks ago and now have also lost Nick Martin.

      The lack of leadership on defense does seem curious. Hard to put all of that on BK, though. The unit was wracked with injuries, which I would assume creates uncertainty and perhaps undermines leadership. I don’t know; . . . but if you’re going to knock BK for the lack of leadership this year, then I think you have to give him a ton of credit for the extraordinary leadership last year. Did you?

      Basically, I think that it is mostly up to the players themselves to emerge as leaders. Either they have it or they don’t.

      TR has improved in many ways, I think, and his overall numbers are pretty good: 249 passing yards/game, 54% completion rate (that’s worse), 25 TDs, 11 INTs. But the one thing that has not improved is his incredible talent for throwing really untimely interceptions. No INT is a good INT, but so many of TR’s have been horrible. But is that BK’s or CM’s fault?

      Overall, to me BK is so enormously better than any of the last three coaches that we have had that I’m still at about a 9 on the “Nudeman BK Supporter Scale.” (I do have a difficult time understanding some of his in-game decisions, especially his penchant for calling for a 15-20 yard pass on third and short.)

    • mtndguy - Nov 29, 2013 at 9:27 PM

      Nude I’m glad I wasn’t aware of this board during the Willingham and Weis years. If you’re like this now, you must have been suicidal then.

    • c4evr - Nov 30, 2013 at 12:03 AM

      I believe this is the only honest post written here in a long time. This is someone who has broken down all the games, examined all angles, and been a long time supporter of the coach and team. And, this is also someone who has the ability to be moved by the evidence to arrive at a new destination, whether that be good or bad. And tho we hardly ever agree, I respect anyone that is man enough to change his mind, not from attrition or coersion, but by what he sees.

  19. dudeacow - Nov 29, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    I have a suspicion that this game boils down to who scores the most points.

    • texasirishfan - Nov 29, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      DUH!

    • wisner74 - Nov 29, 2013 at 6:05 PM

      Most profound thing I’ve ever read on this site, Dude! Well done.

  20. newmexicoirish - Nov 29, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Does anyone know what Kona’s status is? Is he healthy enough to tag team with Jarron Jones? Stanford is going to run the the hell out of the ball, but I have to believe Kona + Jarron = Louis. At least I hope so.

    Secure the football, put special back in special teams, score touchdowns in the red zone, and most important, knock the crap out of Stanford!!!

    Go Irish – beat the Cardinal!

  21. tony34343434 - Nov 29, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    the worst thing about this game is that it is our last one, before the bowl of course. Wait all year for Irish football and it goes so fast. We win this game finish strong, win the bowl game maybe finish in the top 15 and that helps us with recruiting. Lets finish strong boys! Go Irish!

  22. c4evr - Nov 29, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    The 5 stages of 2013 on this board:

    1. Hope, optimism and talk of going 12 – 0 by many here.

    2. We’re everybody’s Super Bowl

    3. Diaco sucks

    4. It’s all Golson’s fault

    5. I will boycott watching if ND is playing a Christmas Day bowl game

    Just for fun, here’s my post from Aug. 26th with responses from Nude:

    5 predictions that will come true:

    T Rees will have a better than expected year
    C McDaniel will be breakout back
    E Shumate will be breakout defensive back
    Punt return game will be non-existent
    CBK will make calls the cost 2 games… At least

    I think I missed only the Shumate prediction…

    Nude:

    TRees … a definite “Maybe”. 50/50. or if pushed to get off the fence, I’ll say 45/55
    C McDaniel … “NFW” … not even close … 10/90; possibly 5/95, or 2/98
    EShumate … “Possible, maybe even probable” … 60/40
    Punt returns … Although they claim otherwise, it’s “Likely” … 80/20
    CBK … who doesn’t make a few bad ones? Don’t think he costs 2 games though … “Highly Unlikely” 10/90

    • tucsonfan - Nov 29, 2013 at 8:48 PM

      C4:

      Rees Yes–much better than I expected–still not good enough to win them all

      McDaniel–an OK, but not breakout year

      Shumate–no

      Punt return–yes

      Kelly calls–name the two games you think HE cost us with calls??

      • c4evr - Nov 29, 2013 at 11:51 PM

        For starters, the two games in which he declined to take penalties for some unknown reason. UM, BK declined penalty late third quarter that would have made it 2nd and 13 or more with Mich deep in their own territory. In stead, he declines, it’s third and 8. Gardner scrambles for 9 yards next play and they score 3 plays later. And, as if he hadn’t learned anything, declined another penalty against Pitt making it 2nd and 6 in stead of 1st and 15. Those type of bonehead decisions – coupled with his refusal to run the ball most of the year and lying about the reasons why – are the types of calls that erode confidence in your coach. So yes, no 1 decision cost any game this year… but an accumulation of highly suspect coaching decisions contributed to the season’s outcome. Hell, I’d forgive his ridiculous coaching mistakes if he could muster any inspired play from his players. Orgeron has taken a floundering team (mid-season, mind you) and transformed them from a hapless, flat, underperforming group and has won all but the ND game, perhaps securing himself a spot as the new head coach. You may look at this team and see a glass half full – that’s your prerogative – but when juxtaposed against the rich tradition of the ND program, it’s definitely a glass half empty. Everybody’s quick to defend BK here by saying ND is everybody’s Super Bowl. I want to know when is it ever ND’s Super Bowl? This team has not been the same since getting embarrassed by ‘Bama and losing T’eo to the pros.

      • mtndguy - Nov 30, 2013 at 10:19 AM

        C4, it’s pretty common for a coach to decline a penalty when it’s 3rd and 8. 3rd and 8 has a low conversion rate. That’s not a bad call. Watch more football, you’ll see that call made most of the time.

        The other call could go either way. It’s not a no brainier like you make it sound. Of course with the benefit of hind site, which you have and Kelly didn’t, you can claim superiority. I disagree that they’re clear cut though in the heat of the moment. Also, to say those calls cost the game is ridiculous. How about the defensive play that gave up 8 yards on a 3rd down? If they gave that up, whose to say the defense wouldn’t have given up 13 yards in two plays?

        Your just wrong on these two plays, or at least it’s not as clear cut as you’d like everyone to believe.

      • c4evr - Nov 30, 2013 at 9:17 PM

        Beg to differ, mtn. I can’t recall not taking yards and backing the other guys up. That’s football coaching 101 – unless they are already 15 yds out from a first down. I stand by my claim and the ensuing results.

      • mtndguy - Dec 2, 2013 at 6:17 PM

        C4evr, you should take the rest of the coaching class. There are many after coaching 101.

  23. wisner74 - Nov 30, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Orgeron was horrible at Ole Miss. I’d like to see him get the SC gig . . . I think that will ensure years of Irish dominance in that rivalry. I’m hoping the same thing with Brady Hoke. I know we’re not playing Michigan anymore, but I’d still love to watch a long stretch of UM mediocrity.

    There isn’t a coach in the country that can’t be second-guessed with hindsight. Any third grader can do it. But which of our last three coaches would you rather have? None of them, right? So what makes you think that the guy we got to replace BK would be any good?

    I do occasionally wonder about some of his in-game decisions — I think he still is a bit of a gunslinger at heart, just a bit impatient on offense — but this guy is such an enormous improvement over what we’ve had since Holtz, that I am just hoping he sticks around for a long time.

    Did you sleep through last season?

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