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Five things we learned: Stanford 27, Notre Dame 20

Dec 1, 2013, 1:01 AM EST

Matt Cashore - USA Today Matt Cashore - USA Today

STANFORD, Calif. — Like many Notre Dame losses, you can look at the Irish’s 27-20 defeat at the hands of No. 8 Stanford in a variety of ways. The pragmatist sees a beaten Irish squad hang with one of college football’s most physical teams while ravaged by injuries. The optimist sees a young stable of talent that’ll be much better for the opportunity. But the realist can’t help but see a team defined by these 60 minutes — heart, effort and character usurped by back-breaking mistakes and missed opportunities.

As Notre Dame falls to 8-4, Brian Kelly made it clear that as important as it is to see the silver lining, the life of a football coach isn’t defined by anything but the bottom line.

“There’s no moral victories,” Kelly said after the loss. “I’m very disappointed that we weren’t able to come up with a play and win the football game. We didn’t come down here to play a close game.”

That the Irish did play a close one says a bunch about this team. Unfortunately, that they still ended up losing says just as much.

Let’s take a look at what we learned during the Irish’s 27-20 loss to Stanford.

***

With a beat up defensive front, Tyler Gaffney and the Stanford ground game was just too much to handle. 

With Louis Nix watching from in front of his computer, Stanford decided to put the game in the hands of its power running game, challenging the Irish’s beat-up defensive front to hang with the Cardinal’s impressive offensive line. 

Ultimately, the Irish couldn’t do it. Stanford ran for 261 yards on the ground, powered by senior running back Tyler Gaffney, who carried the ball 33 times for 189 yards and a touchdown.

After the Irish held strong for most of the second half, Gaffney iced the victory was an impressive final carry, dragging along a handful of Irish defenders for a hard-earned first down.

“This one was pretty special,” Stanford coach David Shaw said of Gaffney’s performance. “When we get a lead, we get into the fourth quarter, they know what’s coming, we know what’s coming. That last run might have been his best run ever. There wasn’t a big hole. He squeaked through it. There was a guy after the hole. He took that guy for a ride.”

There were a lot of positives in the way the Irish defensive front battled for much of the second half, keeping the Irish in the game by keeping the Cardinal out of the end zone, but ultimately the Cardinal’s 51 carries at over five yards a crack was just too much.

***

With the game there to be tied, senior quarterback Tommy Rees just couldn’t get it done. 

With Notre Dame miraculously down just seven points in the fourth quarter, the Irish had two drives to try and tie the football game. Both ended in Tommy Rees interceptions.

The senior quarterback did a lot of good things against a Stanford defense that’s one of the toughest against passers in the country, but when it came down to crunch time, the Irish quarterback threw two critical interceptions that killed the Irish’s chances for winning a close game.

“Our offense kept us in it,” Kelly said. “We just needed to make another play. We had an opportunity. We just couldn’t get the ball to Will (Fuller) when we needed to.”

The interception that Rees threw to Fuller will likely go down as the quintessential Rees interception, a severely under-thrown deep ball that Rees just couldn’t physically get enough on.

The interceptions will keep Irish fans from seeing a solid football game Rees had played until then. In a game where the Irish offense put a ton on the quarterback’s shoulders, Rees played before the snap as well as he ever has.

“Tommy did a great job with double checking, checking,” Kelly said. “There were some things going on out there. I thought he was masterful in a lot of things that he did today. He had them on their heels at times and he got us in some really good looks.”

On a night where Rees passed Jimmy Clausen in the Notre Dame record books for career touchdown passes, the veteran showed that while he couldn’t necessarily do all that was asked of him, he certainly would go down trying.

“I just love the way the kid competes out there,” Kelly said. “As a coach, what you appreciate is when somebody gives you all he has. He threw that ball as far as he could throw it to Will Fuller. Can’t get it any further than that. That’s just Tommy. He gives you everything he has.”

***

On a big stage, DaVaris Daniels put together an impressive football game. But he also showed how much work he still has to do. 

The Irish will say goodbye to veteran wide receiver TJ Jones after the bowl game, with the senior catching six balls for 56 yards and a touchdown against a stingy Stanford secondary. But playing against an elite defense and an excellent secondary, DaVaris Daniels showed that he has the goods to be next year’s No. 1 wide receiver, and potentially give even more to the Irish offense than Jones.

Daniels caught five balls for 79 yards and a touchdown, getting behind the Cardinal secondary for an impressive touchdown that reminds you just how talented the Chicago native can be. But for as tantalizing as Daniels’ skills appear, it’s also clear that the veteran receiver needs to advance his football game in the offseason.

“He does some really, really good things,” Kelly said. “He’s coming. I mean there’s a lot of good things out there for him. He does a really nice job. He’s just got to continue running his routes, and every single play is where his focus needs to be. That’s the next level for him, it’s that consistency.”

That consistency was demonstrated by TJ Jones this season, with the senior elevating his game from complementary piece of the offense to leading man. As Daniels heads into bowl practice and the offseason, he’ll need to reacquaint himself with quarterback Everett Golson, and take his game from sometimes to always, especially if the Irish want to build around some very talented offensive playmakers.

***

With the loss of Chris Watt, the Notre Dame offensive line just keeps getting younger and younger. 

Listening to Brian Kelly after the game, you got the feeling that whatever fell senior left guard Chris Watt, it was something far more serious than aggravating a PCL tear that Watt was playing through.

Watt’s loss is a serious one, pushing both Conor Hanratty and Steve Elmer into the starting lineup. After starting the season with four upperclassmen along the offensive line, the Irish will now start ironman Zack Martin next to four first-year contributors. Yet they weren’t overwhelmed by the moment, a stark difference from the last time Notre Dame visited Stanford.

“They gave us a chance to win,” Kelly said of his beat-up offensive line. “They battled and held their own. It could have been ugly.”

The Irish struggled to carve out a run game, gaining just 64 yards on 24 attempts. But Tarean Folston gave some life to the Irish run game, picking up momentum in the second half while running for 50 yards on 14 carries. Probably more important than that was the excellent protection they gave Rees, giving up just one sack and holding national sack leader Trent Murphy to just two tackles.

“I’m very proud of our young guys,” senior captain Zack Martin said after the game. “When you’re out there in the third and fourth quarter, we have four guys who never started this season, on the road against an opponent this this, it speaks volumes to the way we prepare.”

The experience Elmer, Hanratty, Ronnie Stanley and Matt Hegarty gained late this season will serve the Irish well next season.

***

Notre Dame may not have won on Saturday night. But they finish the season a better team than they began.

Brian Kelly and his players refuted the idea of moral victories so often Saturday night after the game that you would be wise to believe them. Yet it’s hard not to tip your cap at the effort the undermanned Irish played with against a Stanford team that just couldn’t shake Notre Dame.

Senior linebacker Dan Fox made 15 tackles, elevating his play to levels unseen these past two weeks. After being bounced from the starting lineup early this season, Fox has carried the Irish defense through November.

“I really can’t wait to watch him play one more game,” Kelly said of Fox’s efforts. “Because he’s playing good football.”

Fox wasn’t alone leaving it on the field. Austin Collinsworth had another interception, making 11 tackles while playing just about the entire game with a safety position short Eilar Hardy and Elijah Shumate. Collinsworth isn’t Zeke Motta or Harrison Smith, but he played as well as you could ask on Saturday night.

Kona Schwenke played with an ankle that was heavily wrapped. Ishaq Williams returned even with a knee injury that robbed him of a month. And even with Stanford keying on Stephon Tuitt, the junior was a bear for the Cardinal to handle.

“Stephon Tuitt is one of the three top defensive linemen in the nation. He’s phenomenal,” Shaw said, before paying Louis Nix the ultimate compliment. “The best defensive lineman in the nation didn’t play tonight.”

There’s a maxim about horseshoes and hand grenades here somewhere, but not all 8-4 regular seasons are created equal. And as you watched the wounded Irish team walk towards the team bus, you saw a lot of guys that have had injuries rob them of a full season.

“Obviously you’re never happy at 8-4,” Martin said after the game. “We’re disappointed with the season. But, you know, we got the right guys here and the right guys that bought into Coach Kelly’s system. As long as they do that, they’ll be fine.”

If you’re looking for a measure of this team, perhaps Kelly gave his most candid evaluation in some of his closing comments.

“We’re better in November than we are in September,” Kelly said. “I’d like to take this team and look at it where were you in September compared to where you were in November and we’re a better football team.”

When asked what that means, Kelly was perfectly diffusive.

“I guess I’ve got to find a way to get better in September.”  

140 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. whiskeystraight - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    I couldn’t be happier that this season is over. Saturdays have been mentally and emotionally draining for me. Rees is what he is. I don’t like him as a QB but what other option is there? Mental mistakes have absolutely killed ND this year. Blown coverage, wrong routes, missing assignments, bad throws; I don’t know how much more verbal abuse my TV can take.

    Next year I will miss watching TJ, Z. Martin, Watt, Nix and (probably) Tuitt. TJ has been the only consistent receiver for this team. Martin is a stud and will be missed. I do believe that Harry Heitstand is the best coach in South Bend and he will help Elmer make a seamless transition to LT. Nix and Tuitt are physical freaks that are nearly impossible to replace. Depth on the D-Line should be much better next year though.

    I won’t miss TR, Jackson, Carlo, Fox. Hopefully I won’t miss Farley or Collinsworth while they are sitting on the bench. I am ready to see Jarrett Grace back. He was really starting to play well. The young guys at corner have looked solid. Hopefully we see Shumate take a step forward. I really want to see Nicky Baratti. I think he was forgotten with his season ending injury but this guy looks like a stud waiting to happen.

    It would be nice to see BK stick with a RB. Establish a pecking order and distribute carries accordingly. I always agree that you go with the “hot hand,” but it’s hard for anyone to get hot when they are shuffling in and out of the game every play.

    Lastly, does ND tackle in practice? Stanford’s D was nasty. They hit hard and wrap every play. Perhaps Diaco and Co. should take note.

    • dudeacow - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      5 things:

      1: Jaylon Smith is the best player on our defense. His athletic skill mixed with his supernatural learning ability makes him better than Tuitt and arguably Nix. REALLY looking forward to this kid for years to come. Better than Te’o in his freshman year.

      2: Mathias Farley is worse at safety than Gary Gray was at cornerback. I do not know why Redfield isn’t starting. I suppose Redfield doesn’t yet know what to cover and how to tackle, while Farley does but chooses not to.

      3. Nix to the NFL isn’t a sure thing, I think. He seems really reluctant to leave Notre Dame and with the disappointing way this season turned out, he may return. Just, he probably won’t. But one can always hope. I hope he and Stephon get together and both decide to return. That would be a scary D-line next year, with Tuitt-Nix-Day-Okwara all able to hunt down QBs with ease.

      4. Ishaq Williams is never going to have a break out year. I think that he has 15 tackles this season. Ouch. Romeo Okwara, on the other hand, is a legit beast and will start (and flourish) as the CAT backer next season.

      5. This is an extremely deep team. Starting QB out for the year, backup throws for 3000+ and maybe 30 TDs. Top two running backs leave, we discover one who will be one of the best backs in ND history. 3 O-linemen out for the season, 8 or 9 start on the year, and we allow the fewest dropback-sack ratio in the country. Best TE in our history leaves, and then our two TE set breaks the record for TE TDs in a season. Vanderdoesn’t transfers, Hounshell and Springmann out for the season, Day misses 6, Nix misses a couple, Tuitt never at full strength, and yet we aren’t a complete train wreck at DT. Jarrett Grace goes down and misses half, Spond retires, Councell misses half, Williams misses a couple, a true frosh starts the entire season, a walk-on is the third option at MLB, and they still manage to impress. And then there’s the secondary. Baratti out for the season, Shumate has hamstring problems, Collinsworth gets banged up, Farley may or may not be playing with a nagging shoulder injury, and the safety play this year certainly showed all of that. That’s the one group that has been terrible. But all in all, with all of these injuries, an 8-4 record with a very tough schedule with wins over 3 top-25 teams and competitive football played in all, this has been an impressive season.

      5: This is not actually a reply to your comment, whiskeystraight. I just wanted it to be seen. Sorry.

      5: I accidentally reported your comment, whiskey. Sorry about that. I’m not used to the ‘report comment’ button and accidentally clicked it. oops.

      Go Irish, beat NIU/Rutgers. and then Rice. but that’s NINE MONTHS AWAY. Please excuse me while I find a hole to cry in.

    • dickasman - Dec 1, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      This is the end
      Beautiful friend
      This is the end
      My only friend, the end
      Of our elaborate plans, the end
      Of everything that stands, the end
      No safety or surprise, the end
      ***FART***

      Thank god now they can go smoke unlimited amounts of marijuana for while…

      • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 8:44 PM

        You’re classless and clueless to the end, dickas.

  2. ndfightingirishfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    This year has been tough with the injuries and interceptions, but I do think it will pay dividends for ND in 2014. ND will have a mobile qb next year, most likely Golson, with Zaire challenging. Folston should be #1 RB and Bryant, if healthy a solid #2. McDaniel will get some PT and I expect Carlisle to go to slot receiver and Atkinson to mainly be KO return. Daniels will lead a good group of returning WRs and TE looks strong as well. The O-line will be experienced and talented even with the loss of Martin and Watt. Defensively, I expect some growing pains with a new d-line, but there is talent and if guys can bounce back from injury, plenty of talent on that side of the ball. Yes, it was frustrating but not unexpected to see this team put up 8 wins thus far this year, however the immediate future should find the Irish challenging for BCS bowls and hopefully playoff positioning.

    Go Irish!!!

    • mayesdays - Dec 1, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      Right on! This may be the last pro-style QB for the next five plus years with Everret and Malik and hopefully the two prospects that have given ND their verbals.

      • mtflsmitty - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:25 AM

        “Pro-Style”.

        I had to appreciate the irony of the name for TR’s style of play. “Pro-Style”. LOL.

  3. 25kgold - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    I know this is woulda-coulda-shoulda, but…If Golson is at QB this year we’re ONLY a ONE LOSS team! With that loss coming to Oklahoma (**maybe**). In fact, we could very well be undefeated again and on our way to Pasadena (like we originally planned) going up against FSU/OSU. As for Tommy, he’s not going anywhere too soon, I’d bet. After graduation BK will offer him an asst. coaching position–After all, BK needs his security blanket.

    • dudeacow - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      It is only a matter of time when Rees is the coach for ND. I’m not exactly looking forward to those days, but at least he won’t have to throw the ball!

      • bernhtp - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:38 PM

        What do you think the signal will be for throw the ball short into double coverage?

      • dickasman - Dec 1, 2013 at 5:35 PM

        Prolly grabbing both nuts at the same time w both hands.

      • nudeman - Dec 1, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        bern
        LOFL

      • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 8:46 PM

        Why in the world do you think that? or are you joking, Dudeeacow?

  4. danirish - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    I’m so glad this year is over. Only a bowl game to dwell over and I hope to the Good Lord they win.

    For weeks I’ve said I couldn’t wait for Rees to graduate just so the debate would be over, the most polarizing player n ND history gone but watching that game I slide over to the Rees sucks crowd.

    He played uninspired…period. Two interceptions? Try, two with three more Stanford dropped. For him to move ahead of Clausen is a shame and hurts to say. I don’t hate the kid or hope him ill will but you knew it was coming, you knew he would flippantly throw horsecrap balls into crowds and shrug it off and apologize later like “derp, sorry bout that, I tried and have heart!” No, you don’t.

    It was embarrassing to watch him hope around like someone who just got electrocuted while the rest of the offense stayed information, its a wonder there weren’t more illegal motions.

    Goodbye Rees, goodbye. EVEN Farley made some critical tackles.

    I hope next year with a mobile qb (whomever it is) the play calling gets better. LOOK, Rees is under center with a single runningback! I wonder what they are going to do!

    I think I would rather have ND get blown out….no I don’t but dang. Rees, COME ON MAN!

    • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 8:54 PM

      Reese was not good enough by a long shot, and probably was THE major factor in our 4 losses.

      On the other hand, do I regret him passing Clausen in career TD’s at ND? Not a bit–Clausen was one of the most over-hyped ND players of all time, an “I’m for me first” kind of guy. At least Reese stuck in there. Clausen couldn’t wait to get to the show, get his pot of money and shine. Ooops, no talent after all.

      Its interesting that the 3 all time leaders in TD’s at ND went (Brady and Clausen) or will go (Reese) nowhere in the NFL. Although I’m surprised Brady didn’t do better.

      Another wildly over-hyped QB was Ron Powlus, about whom Lou truly had a blind spot. It was fortunate he went down with an injury one season and Lou had to play his backup, whose name I sadly forget–black guy with a Scottish surname. He was a terrific QB and ND only lost 1 game that year I think.

      • dsharp86 - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:14 PM

        Kevin McDougal.

      • tpdsdomer - Dec 4, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        Clausen was certainly hyped, as you say tucsonfan, and I know he was not liked by many, but he could really throw it while playing on teams with poor defenses and virtually no running game. It’s a shame more people don’t consider that whey they judge Clausen’s career at ND.

  5. mediocrebob - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    All these coaches that post on here. So much knowledge. Hopefully some of you are on staff soon to call plays or whatever you think the staff and messing up

    • danirish - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      Yay! I love the “you guys aren’t coaches” post!

      Do I have to be a coach on staff to see the crappy throws? NO!

      Do I have to be a coach on staff to see physical limitations of a player? NO!

      I guess no opinions, according to mediocrebob, can be giving unless we are a coach on staff! Well, that is his opinion….

      • mediocrebob - Dec 1, 2013 at 5:49 PM

        Actually, just don’t understand why people think that Kelly and his staff don’t know what they’re doing. And that some of you people think you know it all. That you know how to fix these issues. That you’re with this team everyday. You think Kelly doesn’t know this teams limitations? There’s a reason your profession isn’t coaching football and that BK is at Notre Dame.

        You think Kelly and his staff aren’t doing everything to win with what they have? They hung in with a top 10 team with a depleted team led by a backup quarterback. I’m not one to take moral victories, but this team plays hard every week for BK, which is more than we could say before BK.

        If you had all access and a football background I’d pay attention to your complaints. But you don’t so I won’t.

        Go Irish.

      • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:00 PM

        Seeing screw ups and noting physical limitations doesn’t take much genius or coaching acumen, so you are correct in that regards, Dan. But when you get into criticizing schemes, play calling, deciding who plays, you then stray into areas where you don’t know what you don’t know.

      • nudeman - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:23 PM

        Mediocre
        You’re kidding, right?
        How about regularly squandering time outs.because you STILL can’t get the plays in on time in the 11th and 12th games of the year?
        Or running for 140 yards in the first half the running exactly 6 times in second half?
        How about a 55 yd FG attempt into the wind?
        How about having a bad QB and letting him hijack the game plan and remove any element of tempo by audibiling every play?
        How about turning down a penalty that would make it 1st and 15 in favor of 2nd and 6?
        How about having a RB who the world can see is your best one, run for 140 yards then get 4 carries the next week?

        There’s more but hopefully by now u get the pt.

      • danirish - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:46 PM

        So bob, you didn’t read my post or any of my posts for that matter. I’ve defended Kelly numerous times and said the same thing you just said about not knowing the details. When some yelled for Bryant not playing I mentioned maybe something is wrong (homesickness, grades, etc), Folston? Maybe he doesn’t know the playbook.

        BUT what I did say in reply to your post is that it is ok for some people to have a legit opinion and not be a coach on staff like you said.

        IT IS CALLED BEING A FAN! Why do I have to be a coach on staff according to your post to make an opinion? What about nudeman. And now according to your quote “If you had all access and a football background I’d pay attention to your complaints. But you don’t so I won’t.” So what are you doing here? What knowledge do you bring? According to you all we can say is “yay Go Irish?” WE ARE GUYS! AND WORSE – WE ARE FANS! THIS IS WHAT WE DO!

        Be for real, relax, sit back, have some fun. Think of the cool things that happened this year, think of the crappy ones – OH WAIT, according to you we don’t know which is which do we?

        GO IRISH!

      • mediocrebob - Dec 1, 2013 at 11:30 PM

        No. According to me the men that coach at the University of Notre Dame know a helluva lot more than any of you clowns that post on here. I’m not saying you can’t have opinions. But to comment on playing time for certain players or plays that are called… Get real. You don’t know 1/10 of what these coaches know and that’s being generous.

        If I were to come in to your place of business, assuming I have never done a day of your work, and start telling you how to do your job and how dumb your strategy is to be successful, I have a feeling you’d tell me to get the hell out. But you know so much about this football team and what it takes to win bc you follow a couple blogs and recruiting websites?

        And nude-

        Boy oh boy. You need to loosen up and spend less time on these sites. You find the worst in absolutely everything. I’ve read enough of your comments to know where you stand with pretty much everything surrounding the Irish program. If it’s so miserable, find another team. Nobody will miss you except maybe dickasman. You can get as upset as you want about not liking BK, but doesn’t seem like anyone cares how you feel, not does it seem that BK is heading anywhere else anytime soon. So jump on board or find another wagon to jump on. Or just cry to yourself. Enough with the same old stuff though. We get it.

      • savejimmyjohnsonsassforme - Dec 1, 2013 at 11:45 PM

        That’s mediocre, at best, Bob!….just like the performance of this coaching staff in 2013. They were pretty darn good in 2012, aside from special teams, hopefully they just had a bad year.

      • mediocrebob - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:06 AM

        Clever response. I like how you say the coaches were great last year. You only say that bc of the 12-0 regular season. It’s pretty easy sitting on your couch in your living room after a loss and pick out things you saw throughout a game that didn’t work and tell us how awful the coaching decisions are. You still know nothing beyond what you see on Saturdays. Whereas bk is with them everyday of the week. Once again, you can have opinions. Just understand that nobody on here sees what goes on everyday of the week. And even if we did, I am willing to bet that none of us could do a better job than our HC.

      • savejimmyjohnsonsassforme - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:27 AM

        Never said I could do a better job than Kelly, or Diaco for that matter, but what I have seen from my couch is a general lack of preparedness on both sides of the ball. I’ve also seen an inability to coach kids up(Redfield)into a position where they can relieve someone who’s consistently underperforming. We’re supposed to have some pretty bright kids at ND, right? Well why do I keep hearing about how difficult it is to play this position or that and a kid is “coming along” at ND, while other kids seem to step right in at D1 schools across America? In my mind, if a kid with superior ability cannot crack the 2-deep it falls on the coaching staff, it’s their job to get them ready. If “the system” has proven to be difficult to learn at nearly every position, maybe “the system” needs to be tweaked.

      • mtflsmitty - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:43 AM

        Bob, I think you’re on target with the armchair QBing that goes on in here. But the phrase “armchair QB” has been around a lot longer than the Internet and chat boards. That’s because guys have doubted coaching for as long as teams have failed to go undefeated.

        Again, you’re right about people’s preposterously virulent criticisms; especially given the lack of actual insight. But be warned, you’re not likely to unseat anyone from their self appointed position as coach.

      • mediocrebob - Dec 2, 2013 at 10:37 AM

        Fans of today think that you know it all bc you played high school football and a few people told you that you were good and so you feel this right to critique everything. I can tell you as a high school assistant coach, I see plenty of it from dads who think that they have all the answers. But who do you think knows more about the team? The dads who watch the team play every Friday night? Or the coaches who are with them 6 days a week? So i decided a long time ago that I would never be one of those dads and that I would be my son/daughters biggest fan. That means supporting them, win or lose, and not complaining about playing time or what the coach(es) are doing bc I’m not there all the time.

        So tell me when fans started thinking they had the knowledge to second guess the people that do this for a living? When BK starts doing things that jepardize the players, then you can start your crying. The guy wins and they just had a year that when Golson was suspended, most people (realist) saw coming. 8 wins with a bowl game. Funny that they are 8-4 and heading to a bowl game. What’s the use in crying now? If it makes you feel better and like you’re a part of the program, go ahead. Just know you sounds not smart spewing out the same things every week. Anyone who watches the Irish sees the same things you see. I’m just not going to act like I know the answers to fix it. You shouldn’t either.

      • irish13pa - Dec 2, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        If one cannot see that Folston was the best RB we had this year… they should not be coaching at ND or commenting on how good this coaching staff is.
        And no matter what anyone says, Redfield cannot be as bad as Farley and or Collinsworth. Even if Redfield “wasnt ready” I highly doudt he would have looked as bad or as lost as the 2 safties that played all year did.

    • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      Spot on Bob. Especially at NDNation–where everyone is a “coach”, with a party line view of ND football and especially of Kelly–enforced by the Stalinists that run that benighted site.

      • ndgoldandblue - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        Forget NDNation. That place is a cesspool of negativity. I don’t mind a negative viewpoint as long as it’s based in reality. I thought Glenn Beck was the king of conspiracy theories, but the posters over at NDNation take the cake.

    • mediocrebob - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:16 AM

      Dan-

      Fans support their team and coach win or lose. The complaints on here are ridiculous. So you can say you’re “just being fans” all you want but being a true fan isn’t about bitching and moaning on Sundays after a loss about things you see from your couch that didn’t work out and saying that it was a bad call.

      It’s the negativity from fans who think that they know it all that creates unnecessary negativity around the program and also why people around the country view the fan base as arrogant and annoying. I don’t blame them. There are too many of you who can’t call a spade a spade and admit that this team is a 8-9 win team with a backup QB and a depleted front seven. You have to point the finger at the head man and act like the Irish should be doing better. And I’m not accepting of an 8 win season and mediocrity. But this season was doomed from the Golson suspension, and that should’ve been obvious to even the most ignorant of so called “fans”. So spare me the ‘ what knowledge do you bring’ bs. I’m not the one questioning everything everyone of our coaches and players do the day after it didn’t seem to work out.

      • ndirish32 - Dec 2, 2013 at 9:42 AM

        Fan is short for fanatic. Fanatic implies passion and intense interest.

        If you want to be the type of “fan” who watches the game, never expresses anything other than “Oh shucks, they lost” and go on about your business, that is your right. Go and do it. And if myself and Nude and several others want to critique things and discuss ways that we think things could be made better, that is our right. If you don’t want to read it, leave.

        Simple solution.

    • mediocrebob - Dec 2, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      Lack of being prepared? Just because Redfield , who plays one of the most difficult positions in this defense isn’t ready to be an every down player doesn’t mean a damn thing about the coach’s ability to prepare. It would possibly mean that if there weren’t about 10 other examples of guys being thrust into significant playing time as freshmen or sophomores but that’s about where your argument loses its credibility. Notre Dame has plenty of freshmen playing a lot.

      The whole “armchair QB” thing. Once again, you can have your opinions. Just realize the saying when it comes to opinions and also realize that the only ones that matter are the ones who are professional football coaches. So the people that come on here every week complaining the day after a game about the play calls that didn’t work and shouldn’t be used or players that played a lousy game and shouldn’t be in…you don’t know enough about the game nor this team to be making these comments. I don’t either which is why I stay out of it for the most part. Just so sick of the negativity and the people that think they know how to fix the issues on this team. None of you do. Bc this team is what it is. A team led by TR, which is the best option they have right now. Time to move on guys.

    • mediocrebob - Dec 2, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      And I take it you are with the team every week at practice and in meetings?

  6. danirish - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    ON a more positive note, I am one of those fans that is excited by next year. There will be NO rookies next season (except Zaire and Deeb) because it seems everyone got some good experience. I am pumped at the fact that young players improved and got critical playing time!

    Now, what bowl?

    GO IRISH!

  7. andy44teg - Dec 1, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Anyone check out the new AP Poll? What a freaking joke!!! I’m not saying ND should be in the top 25, but TAMU @ 21?? Please! Same record as ND and they’ve beat NO ONE! Seriously, I can’t wait for TR to be gone and Johnny -I didn’t get paid for doing 5,000 autographs- Football to be gone after this year. The infatuation with him and the SEC makes me wanna puke.

    • mayesdays - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      SEC is very overrated this year. Their two last place teams from a year ago will be playing for a conference championship. I did enjoy Johnny getting pounded last night at the hands of Mizzou.

  8. jem5b - Dec 1, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    I for one will miss Tommy the R. The kid gave his all, every play.
    Where will all of the vitriolic commentators of Tommy the R be doing off season, and next?
    Mediocrity has not set in with this team and Kell. Once again a few handful of plays separating a terrific season.
    Please no bowl games ND. You’re better then that as an institution.

    • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:03 PM

      Jem, I agree with your third paragraph but not the bowl position you take.

  9. irish4me - Dec 1, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    1. Diaco unprepared again. Stanford is a run first team, and we come out with a 3-4
    defensive setup. We should’ve put it on their QB Hogan to beat us, I didn’t see his
    name on the Heisman hopefuls for a reason. I’m tired of the bend don’t break, give up
    500 yards defensive plan. More than anything on this team, this has me worried. There
    has to be a change, this plan is insane to me. Somebody’s got to be accountable for the
    ridiculously bad tacking on this team, sorry Diaco but that’s on you. That being said,
    our boys made a valiant effort, being ravaged with injuries and playing this well was
    pretty inspiring, but alas, they only give trophies for “trying” in little league.

    2. Tommy Rees is what he is, he was consistently out of sync with his receivers
    yesterday. I can’t believe he threw that last interception, right on the heels of the other,
    he just doesn’t seem to learn. He had other passes thrown directly at Stanford that were
    dropped. I’m not upset with Tommy though, he played by the rules and I’m sure he
    tried his best, it’s Golson that I reserve my anger for, and a coach that doesn’t put him
    a better position to win.

    3. Coaching, bad coaching. ND deserves better than this, Kelly consistently puts it on
    Tommy to throw too much. He also allows way too many play changes at the line, it’s
    comical sometimes and how many delay of game penalties should the team endure?
    The tackling is terrible, can’t win week in and week out with that weak crap. The
    reason that Bill Bellechick is so good year in and year out, he observes his players, he
    evaluates their abilities and then puts a game plan in motion that favors their abilities,
    he doesn’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. I guess Kelly was right, we’ll
    have to get used to it.

    4. I agree with an earlier poster, ND needs to schedule some early cupcakes to get some
    playing time for the younger players and to get the team to mesh together. Some
    confidence goes a long way.

    5. I’m disappointed in the 8-4 record, I felt that we should have beaten Michigan and of
    course Pitt at the very least. I’ll be there watching the boys week in and week out, but
    at this point this was a very disappointing season of expectations being trampled on.
    Mr. Golson I’m looking directly at you, come back win your teammates respect and
    play up to your potential.

    • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:10 PM

      Just out of curiosity, Irish4me, regarding your first 3 points, what would you have done differently with the cards Kelly, Diaco et al were dealt this year? Defense, although pitifully depleted, held Stanford to 27 points, none in the 4th quarter. ND rushed for less than 3 yards/carry, including Folston. ND had to pass and that’s where TR’s maddening inconsistency cut in.

      But, as a famous guy once said, “you go to war with the army you have”. Kelly and Diaco did all they could with what they had, as did the players themselves.

      We should reap some benefits next year from all this angst–I say “should” because who knows what new surprises are in store over the off season?

      • irish4me - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:12 AM

        tucsonfan this is my reply to your curiosity:

        Well, first off I’m just an armchair QB like the rest of you and the ND coaching staff has forgotten more
        About football than I ever knew, but I’ll take a stab:

        Stanford is first and foremost a running power. Using a 3-4 defensive scheme plays right into their hands, I would have started the game with a 4-3 thereby having a fourth lineman to take on the offensive blockers and close the running lanes, in a 3-4 both the defensive linemen and the linebackers can be overwhelmed by blocking schemes defending the running game. If you noticed late in the game
        Diaco went to a 4-3 scheme and kept Stanford from scoring in the 4th quarter. In addition I wouldn’t have our defensive backs playing so far off the ball all of the time.

        On the Offensive side of things, I believe we gave up on the run too early. Things that aren’t working
        early in a running game, change in the fourth quarter as Defenses get worn down. I would love to see
        A SCREEN pass, there’s no such thing on this team, that’s ridiculous. The empty backfield setup is great ONLY if you have a mobile QB, next year if Golson comes back there will be a threat of him running,
        not so with Tommy Rees, this puts him in a position of having to throw with everyone in the stadium knowing it and without a back as a safety valve or a screen pass, or even a draw play (when’s the last time we saw a draw or screen pass?). Also, what happened to Troy Niklas, how is he suddenly the forgotten man ? How about some crossing routes utilizing his size and great hands as a receiver and not just his blocking talents?

        Could we have won had we done these things? I don’t know, but it would have put in better position in my opinion. As I mentioned abov, considering the sheer amount of injuries, the Defense played well. This team needs to have lots of tackling drills, I can’t believe the number of missed tackles week in and week out, it’s mind numbing how many. If poor tackling is not on Diaco, then who is it on?

        Normally, I like to look at the good things, but this team needs some serious adjustments and to overlook that is not being a fan, it’s just settling, and at ND, settling should not be an option.

  10. nudeman - Dec 1, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    I am amazed at the number of people here who thought this game would play out differently.
    I’ve been very vocal/obnoxious with my assessment of the team and staff, but this unfolded EXACTLY as I predicted. It’s the same formula every time ND has played a good team this year. .

    – Fall behind early
    – Struggle to get back in the game, but ultimately get back in the game, sort of. (UM, OK)
    – Abandon the run, in favor of a bad QB throwing it all over the field (UM, OK, Pitt)
    – Never actually catch up (UM, OK)
    – D unable to stop opponent when it counts most (UM, OK, Pitt)
    – Turn a mediocre QB into a Heisman look alike (UM, OK, Pitt)
    – Game still winnable when ND gets the ball mid or late Q4 (UM, OK, Pitt)
    – Tommy Rees throws bad INTs, usually on 1st down and sometimes in the end zone on 1st down
    (UM, OK, Pitt)
    – People here and Kelly blame everyone but Tommy (Every game)

    As Bill Walsh once said about Steve DeBerg, “He’s just good enough to get you beat”
    That is Rees.

    • mayesdays - Dec 1, 2013 at 7:36 PM

      Nude you can post comments like the rest of us. With that being said no one will take you seriously. KA has the floor.

    • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:15 PM

      Nude, does this mean your self imposed sabbaitical is over?? sigh.

      Do you think there is anything in your post that is new, or that nobody else noticed? By the way, I think our D played well, considering the injury situation–oh wait, that doesn’t count with you, right? Don’t let facts get in the way of your emotion, bud. Like the fact that we averaged under 3 yards per carry in the 28 or so rushes we had Saturday, but we “abandoned” the run??

    • mtndguy - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      Nobody blames Rees? There are lots of “Rees blamers” here. They’re just not as obnoxious about it as you are.

  11. papadec - Dec 1, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    I can appreciate the need for consistent discipline & adherence to team rules, BUT, Kelly could have taken the two players & sat them on the bench for the 1st half. All he accomplished, in my opinion, was to punish the entire team. ND probably wouldn’t have won the game anyway – but it comes across to me as an asinine decision.

    • mayesdays - Dec 1, 2013 at 7:37 PM

      If it’s a violation of a team rule, you can’t change your discipline no matter who the players are.

    • runners00 - Dec 1, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      I disagree. I think the team understands the rules and the consequences up front — and they play by those rules and accept those consequences. Look, every team has a set of rules and the consequences that flow from those rules. We are no different.

      My real problem is that we were forced to play with a below-average quarterback for the entire year because some kid decided to cheat on a test. Would we have gone unbeaten? Hell no. This team has so many weaknesses it’s practically a miracle we were 8-4. But we would have done a lot better in certain games and this was one of them.

  12. jem5b - Dec 1, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Nude, agree with all, but the Tommy the R analysis. Tommy is not an AA qb, but gives his very best, unfortunately as you pointed out Kell expects AA caliber qb’ing from him.
    Shaw once again kept a tight reign on Hogan, and demanded his OL, and Gaffney to win the game.
    Kell should learn from him.
    On a positive note for ND alums(subway..me) Hogan’s uncle must be delighted. Coley O’brian(sp)

    • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      Gosh Jem, you’re right of course. Kelly should have pulled Reese aside and said “look kid, I don’t expect AA play from you”. What a relief that would have been to Reese and the rest of the team, and to us fans.

      Yep, Shaw was a genius–demanded his Oline and Gafney win the game. Why didn’t Kelly think of that?! Oh, our Oline was down to playing mostly reserves, and we have nobody even close to a Gafney at RB? Darn!!

  13. savejimmyjohnsonsassforme - Dec 1, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    You want asinine? How about the decision to continually run the bend but don’t break defense of the great Bob Diaco? The only problem is that the 2013 defense consistently DOES break…..what’s the definition of insanity?

    • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:23 PM

      Did you notice we held them to 27, with a front 7 down to 3rd and 4th string players at most positions? What would you do differently, particularly with the safeties we have?

      Asinine is thinking you know more than the people operating at the top of a profession that you clearly do not understand.

      • savejimmyjohnsonsassforme - Dec 1, 2013 at 10:06 PM

        Maybe put some pressure on a receiver before he makes the catch instead of allowing them to make the catch uncontested and then relying on the safeties to make a tackle that they’ve consistently proven themselves incapable of making?…..yep, I’d probably start there, ya know, try something different so as not to appear as if I were insane.

      • savejimmyjohnsonsassforme - Dec 1, 2013 at 10:21 PM

        And by the way, the D has been a mash unit all year for sure and it’s obviously impacted game planning and performance, but of the starting front seven against Temple, only Nix was missing(Grace too if you want to count him as 1/2 a starter), Tuitt, Day, Shembo, Fox, Calabrese and Smith all played. Massive losses among the 2-deep, yes, most spots manned by 3rd and 4th stringers, NO!

      • ndgoldandblue - Dec 1, 2013 at 10:29 PM

        tucson, I know that you’re trying to keep all the negativity in check after the loss on Saturday, and it’s admirable. You’ve certainly called out a lot of posters on their takes. As for this post, I just have to chime in.

        You mentioned the front seven being down to 3rd and 4th string players at most positions. That’s a bit of an embellishment. Tuitt, Day, Calabrese, Fox, and Shembo were all starters at the beginning of the year. Also, Ishaq was the first sub off the bench (like a 6th man in basketball terms). The only reserves at the beginning of the year who started in the front seven against Stanford were Jarron Jones and Jaylon Smith (who has been a starter since the Temple game anyway because of Spond’s retirement).

        I agree that the defense made a few good stops, and “holding” Stanford to 27 points is nice and all, but for a while it looked like Stanford could do whatever they wanted in the run game. They got a rushing touchdown on a dive play on 3rd and 9. That’s gutsy. If I’m a head coach and I make that call, I’m basically saying, “I’m going to run the ball here on 3rd and 9 because I think they’re too soft to stop us.” And they did all of this against many of the ones on the preseason depth chart.

  14. savejimmyjohnsonsassforme - Dec 1, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Five things:

    1) Why is Niklas no longer a focal point of this offense? I almost wanna believe the coaching staff may have stopped calling his number so that he wouldn’t have thoughts of the next level after this season.
    2) Will we ever have an aggressive defense that actually attempts to cover a receiver, any of the opposing receivers? Anyone else sick of seeing QB’s complete passes to uncovered targets?
    3) Where in the f…ing world is Max Redfield? Can someone please explain to me how it makes sense to play someone who may know the responsibilities of the safety position, and may wind up in the right spot, yet doesn’t have the physical ability to make the play over a raw athlete? I’m truly terrified that this kid’s a 5-star bust!
    4) How long do we have to watch GAIII? He’s tentative in everything he does, rarely gets up to full speed, tries to avoid contact(I will say he’s shown slight improvement), but as I mentioned a few weeks back, HE’S JUST NOT A FOOTBALL PLAYER! There’s no shame in that, especially if there are better options to assume his responsibilities.
    5) We will never be back, never truly all-the-way back as an elite program until we start to impose our will and administer some beat downs, to not only the weaker opponents, but also an occasional blowout against other top teams. Lets start with a shellacking of Pudue & Syracuse(we’ll see you down the road, Pitt) and a blowout of Stanford and/or Michigan(who knows when we’ll get another chance)in 2014.

    • dudeacow - Dec 1, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      1) OHMYGOODNESS YOU ARE SO RIGHT. 5 TDs through 7 games, rarely even targeted since. I think when Koyack started to catch on, they utilized Niklas as more of a blocker. But now they’re not even using Koyack. Niklas is hands down the best TE in the nation, get him the dang ball!

      2) We were more aggressive earlier in the year. That was when we discovered that we can’t cover man-to-man and our safeties don’t tackle. But it is frustrating to watch receivers get that open.

      3) I’m starting to worry just a little bit, but I’m guessing he just is taking a little long to digest the complexities of the safety position. After all, safety is the quarterback of the defense. BK said that he would be a “dynamite player” for ND, so I’m hopeful. He didn’t say that about Farley.

      4) As long as he’s in the program, GAIII will get touches. Kelly obviously knows that Cam and Tarean are more consistent, but he wants George to live up to his potential so badly. He gives him a chance each game. If you think he’s crazy, look at his moves on the opening kickoff return!

      5) YES. A truer statement there never was. We were disrespected even when we were the only 12-0 team because of games like Purdue and BYU. 11-1 Alabama was thought of as better because they won, and won soundly. I am drooling for the day when we bring our A game against bad teams and cupcake games turn out to be, well, cupcakes.

      • tucsonfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:30 PM

        Re #1, I’m sure they didn’t throw to Niklas more because they didn’t want him to decide to leave–how silly is that?? You have a great, but clueless, imagination savejimmy and dudeacow. How about he was better covered when the defenses noticed how good he is?

        Re Redfield, maybe he will be a bust–who knows yet. I’ll go with the coaches who see him every practice–since we actually don’t see him. Funny how our opinions can be so strong based on absolutely no facts.

        re #5, I’m sure nobody on the team, coaching staff, or administration ever thought of “shellacking” other teams. I really didn’t appreciate that our guys didn’t know to do that.
        On the other hand, what the heck do you think they’ve been trying to do??

      • dudeacow - Dec 2, 2013 at 10:58 AM

        What I’m saying is they realized they could get the great aerial production Niklas gave them by using Koyack, but since Niklas is the better blocker, they used him to block. Koyack: pass catcher. Niklas: blocker. That’s what their roles turned into.

      • mtndguy - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        Am I the only one getting tired of “Five Things”? It’s fine with Keith does it, but all the copycat posters need to stop. How about “four things”, or “six things”?

    • onward2victory - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      Re: GAIII: I think we’ve seen a lot of improvement from him over the year. He’s surprising productive (I think he leads the team in ypc) and has become a much more physical runner this year (he actually gets yards after contact).

      Plus he had a fantastic blitz pickup on the TD throw to Jones this week.

      He’ll never look as natural running the ball as cam or folston, but I think he has earned 5-10 carries a game.

      • savejimmyjohnsonsassforme - Dec 1, 2013 at 10:39 PM

        Good points. He was shifty on the opening kickoff, wasn’t he? I did acknowledged he’s improved his physicality, but the tentative nature and inability/unwillingness to hit top-gear on kickoffs is absolutely maddening. I too fell in love with his home run potential after the freshman return TD’s, but he’s been brutal ever since, IMO. I just think this is the type of situation that’s holding this program back, and maybe the answer hasn’t emerged yet, but are we even looking for one?

  15. irishdodger - Dec 1, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Keith,

    Any truth to Jhonathan Williams decommiting?

    • kapnd73 - Dec 2, 2013 at 3:43 AM

      Well, I saw this on Keith’s twitter account (hope it copy/pastes ok):
      ————–
      Jake Brown ‏@Jake_Brown 6h

      #NotreDame DE commit. RT @Jhonny_willl: My last tweet wasn’t about college football…Just Trinna help pick out a Christmas present..chill
      Retweeted by Keith Arnold
      ————–
      It was posted a few hours after this post of Jhonny’s:
      ———
      Jhonny WIlliams ‏@Jhonny_willl 7h

      Feel like I made the wrong decision…😓
      ———-

    • jmfinsd - Dec 2, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      Classic. Williams tweets “Feel like I made the wrong decision.” You then post, “According to his Twitter feed, he is now backing away from his commitment to ND.” What in the world did you see in that post that made you confident enough to use it as support to post that he is now backing away from his commitment? Obviously nothing, because 2 minutes after you post he’s decommiting, you ask if there’s any truth to him decommiting? Why would you post he is decommiting and then ask 2 minutes later if there’s any truth to the rumor that you started? Do you go through every day like this?

  16. deaconjack - Dec 2, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    I need to get my boots out. It is getting pretty deep.

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