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Five things we learned: Notre Dame 29, Rutgers 16

Dec 28, 2013, 6:12 PM EDT

Brian Kelly AP

So many parts of Notre Dame’s 29-16 victory over Rutgers were forgettable. The sloppy turf inside Yankee Stadium, the special teams mistakes and the missed opportunities. But in the end, Brian Kelly’s Irish pulled away from Rutgers, winning a ninth game of the season, putting an appropriately frustrating bow on a difficult season.

At times, Notre Dame looked like a great football team. Moving the ball impressively between the 20s, limiting Rutgers offense to just 236 yards, and forcing turnovers and sacking the quarterback. Yet forced to kick five field goals, the Irish did their best to keep the Scarlet Knights in the game, getting precious little out of their 494 yards.

With the 2013 season in the books, let’s look at the five things we learned during the Irish’s Pinstripe Bowl win over Rutgers.


1. No matter how ugly it was, heading into the offseason with nine wins and a bowl victory is better than the alternative. 

There will be no style points awarded for Notre Dame’s victory in Yankee Stadium. But walking away with a 29-16 victory was mandatory, and give credit to the Irish for at least doing that. While Notre Dame didn’t make it easy on themselves, the team gutted out a win by putting together a few clutch drives late, and forcing four turnovers against a Rutgers team that made a habit of giving the ball away.

On a slippery track that made more tackles than any one player, the Irish outside ground game was shut down and players on both sides of the ball were slipping and sliding. But even in a game that played every bit as ugly as any other this season, the Irish took home a victory.

Sending out the seniors in style was important. But so was taking some momentum into next season. With Everett Golson returning for spring practice and a young skill position depth chart taking shape, this offense will have the burden of great expectations. Exactly the type of fuel you’d prefer over the long offseason months.


2. It wasn’t the going away party the Irish would’ve liked for captains TJ Jones and Bennett Jackson.

Against a suspect passing defense, TJ Jones had the chance to do some damage, possibly pushing his way up the Notre Dame record books with a monster game against the Scarlet Knights. But Jones’ afternoon got started on the wrong foot, when a low punt clanked off his shoulder pads, a killer turnover that gave Rutgers three easy points.

But that was hardly the worst of it for Jones. The senior receiver also got banged up on his eight-yard touchdown run, when he took a nasty hit reaching the football across the goal line. Jones wasn’t the same player after that hit, missing a few plays before coming back into the game.

Jones made five catches for 66 yards, but dropped an easy touchdown pass and struggled to keep his footing on the sloppy Yankee Stadium surface. Incorporated into the game plan as a rusher, receiver and special teams threat, Jones didn’t play his best during the Irish’s 29-16 victory, but he battled through a painful injury to help the Irish win.

The Irish’s defensive captain didn’t fair much better on Saturday. Bennett Jackson had a touch time with Rutgers receiver Brandon Coleman, getting beat for a 51-yarder over the top and a 14-yard touchdown. Jackson also had a 15-yard pass interference penalty, making it a finale to forget for the cornerback playing in front of family and friends.

It wasn’t all bad for Jackson. He made an aggressive play on a short pass that helped Kendall Moore come up with an interception and a nice stop on special teams late in the game. Those are the type of plays that’ll determine whether or not Jackson makes a living playing on Sundays, as the one-time special teams dynamo and former running back/receiver/return man will need to keep his Swiss Army skills sharp to make it in the NFL.


3. Even though it looks like Kerry Cooks won’t get the defensive coordinator job, his group did a nice job on Saturday afternoon. 

Brian Kelly revealed after the game that he has decided on an outside hire to be his next defensive coordinator. While he wasn’t ready to name Bob Diaco’s replacement, it looks as if it won’t be Kerry Cooks. If this is it for Cooks as the defensive coordinator, he’s got to be happy with his unit’s performance.

The Irish racked up four sacks and also had four interceptions against Rutgers while holding the Scarlet Knights to just 236 yards. Put in tough situations with shoddy special teams play, the Irish limited Rutgers to just 16 points and only three of 12 third down conversions.

The Irish struggled at times defending quarterback Chas Dodd, who surprised with some impressive scrambles and runs. But Rutgers completed just 10 of 28 passes against the Irish, and averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. Nice work by a defense still playing well short of full strength.


4. In the end, Tommy Rees was what we all thought he was. And Saturday he went out a winner. 

It was a hot and cold Saturday for Rees, who completed 27 of 47 passes for the Irish, throwing for 317 yards. Unwilling to give up the ball over the top, Rutgers was content to let Rees pick away at the underneath throws, which Rees did effectively, picking up 20 passing first downs and converting seven of 16 third downs.

But the Irish passing game just wasn’t able to get on track with throws down field, with Will Fuller, Jones and Davaris Daniels all unable to pull in catches that could’ve resulted in touchdowns.

Those kind of misses, especially in the red zone, help explain why the Irish scored just 29 points while gaining 494 yards. And Rees was hardly immune to mistakes, making a few bad decisions as he forced the football down field into coverage. But the Irish won another game when Rees didn’t commit a turnover, holding true on a datapoint that is four years in the making.

Saturday’s game made apparent the limitations the Irish have with Rees running the offense. That Rees’s quarterback sneak and two-yard scramble were just the second and third positive rushing play on the season for the quarterback show you just how difficult it is to run Brian Kelly’s offense without a mobile quarterback. But Kelly had nothing but good things to say about Rees as the veteran quarterback played his final game for the Irish.

“I’m a Tommy Rees fan for life,” Kelly said after the game.

5. With the game on the line, Zack Martin and the offensive line powered the Irish running game to a clinching score. 

With the Irish clinging to a three point lead, Brian Kelly turned to his offensive line to win the game. And for senior Zack Martin, it was one final opportunity to dominate an opponent. With the help of Troy Niklas’s clutch 28-yard catch up the seam, the ground game did the job and Martin earned the game’s MVP trophy.

After holding the Irish to meager gains during the first half, the Irish did damage on the ground after halftime, with Martin leading the way for Notre Dame. Taking the ball with under nine minutes left, the Irish marched 10 plays in over five minutes with Tarean Folston gaining 37 yards on six carries to seal the victory.

The play of the offensive line was a bright spot all season. That a group that lost three starters could continue to protect Rees so well when it mattered is a credit to Harry Hiestand and Martin, who was the binding agent on a line that had to break in four first-year starters.

There will be other offensive tackles taken before Martin in the upcoming NFL Draft, but Kelly was unequivocal in his praise for his four-year left tackle.

“He’s the best offensive lineman I’ve ever coached,” Kelly said.

227 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. nudeman - Dec 29, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    And getsome, just for you since you’re such a stat geek:

    ND was DEAD LAST in completion % this year for all teams with over 250 pass attempts.

    • wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:49 PM

      That’s horrible. I know Rees’s completion percentage was down, but dead last? Not good.

      • getsome99 - Dec 31, 2013 at 11:12 AM

        I would also attribute a 10% handicap on the completion percentage to ND’s inability to run screen plays.

    • runners00 - Dec 29, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      This is untrue. At 54.1 percent, Rees had a poor year from a completion percentage perspective, but he is not dead last. I think he is last among BCS contenders. I think starting quarterbacks at Rice, Tulane, Western Michigan and West Virginia had inferior completion percentages even though they made 250 passing attempts.

      • wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 8:04 PM

        Hmmm . . . Nude?

      • nudeman - Dec 29, 2013 at 8:04 PM

        Read it.on Irish Illust from reliable source. Haven’t vetted it myself.
        Rees himself was 110 out of 127.

        Will vet later. Either way, it wasn’t good. Regressed badly in this area

      • nudeman - Dec 30, 2013 at 1:24 AM

        Clearly this was wrong. Unless I’m missing something, ND ranked 107th
        Still really poor, but not last
        My bad

      • runners00 - Dec 30, 2013 at 11:12 AM

        (taking a bow)

    • getsome99 - Dec 30, 2013 at 5:50 PM

      How many drops?

      • nudeman - Dec 30, 2013 at 10:11 PM

        Good point.
        No other program has WR drops. Just ND

        Keep making excuses for your boy Tommy
        It’s a short plank

      • nudeman - Dec 30, 2013 at 10:12 PM

        Good point.
        No other program has WR drops. Just ND

        Keep making excuses for your boy Tommy
        It’s a short plank

      • getsome99 - Dec 30, 2013 at 11:20 PM

        I don’t need to make excuses for Rees. Regardless of how much you dislike him personally, he’s leaving Notre Dame with a 23-8 W-L record with 2 saves and 2-1 in bowl games. The only “stat” that really matters.

    • getsome99 - Dec 31, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      And ranked 17th in the nation in TD passes and 25th in Yards Per Attempt. What’s your point? That Rees was the 17th best QB in college football because he threw more TD than a hundred other guys?

      Just another perspective-less post from you to carry out an agenda.

  2. wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    TEST. Anyone else having problems posting?

    • wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      How in the world do I get a thumbs down for that one?

      • ndgoldandblue - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:59 PM

        LOL! I was wondering the same thing, wisner. Geez, some people really are sensitive.

      • wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 7:51 PM

        There out to get me! I always knew it! They’ve always been out to get me!

  3. paulhargis53 - Dec 29, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Who thinks this “real life”Boob? Certainly not me.

    You remind me of a 7 year old child that has a group of freinds, then a new kid moves into the neighborhood that’s a little more fun, has better toys and the kid cantt grasp why everyone likes the new kid better. So he pouts and lashes out at the new kid, because he doesn’t know how to react.

    Grow up you big baby.

    You’re nothing but a fart in the wind to me.

    • wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:49 PM

      Not your best stuff, Paul. Is the hangover bothering you?

      • papadec - Dec 29, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        Wis – Nah, he’s gone super aggressive to cover up his RU blowout of ND prediction. Like Paul has said several times – he just posts things to get reactions. I find some of his posts to be funny, especially when you keep in mind that he just wants to get things stirred up. He does a good job of getting under the skin of some people.

    • getsome99 - Dec 30, 2013 at 6:16 PM

      You get 2 thumbs down for this one it was so bad.


  4. deaconjack - Dec 29, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Nudeman- I agree with what you say in your analysis of Brian Kelly save for for one point. . I don’t believe he has figured out what an ND man is or what ND is all about. He is primarily concerned about himself and what he desires. One additional point he does not adjust to the talent he is coaching. Both Parseghian and Holtz excelled at that.

    • rjshan - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:01 PM


      You’re an idiot !

      • nudeman - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:23 PM

        No … YOU are the idiot for.a comment like that.

      • wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        Bob – I don’t think Deac’s comment is idiotic, but the point is open to debate. My first reaction was to disagree, and I think I do disagree. Not sure I have ever seen more massive adjustments to the available talent than those BK has had to display at the QB position over the past two years.

        But I sure do agree that both Parseghian and Holtz excelled at that.

    • mtflsmitty - Dec 29, 2013 at 6:12 PM


      On what basis do you say BK has not figured out what an ND man is about?*

      I guess I also have to ask, does an effective coach at ND need to know what an ND man is about? It would seem Jack Swarbrick and Father Jenkins think very highly of BK. So either Father Jenkins ans Jack Swarbrick think BK is an ND man (and presumably understands what it means to be an ND man), or they don’t think it’s central to his role as coach. My suspicion is it’s the former.

      * You won’t find a more loyal ND fan, though not an ND man, on this board. But please do not tell me that because BK has interest in pursuing his career to the highest level, he is not an ND man. If ND football were a charity that might be one thing. But ND football is an enormously profitable brand. The brand is carefully marketed and protected. Confusing ND football with, say for instance, the core beliefs of the university as described in the mission statement would be in error.

      • wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 7:56 PM

        On the ND-man point, it never felt to me that either Bob Davie or Tyrone Willingham got it. I thought Davie just thought it was a great gig to start his head coaching career with while he waited for his dream job at Texas A&M to open up. I never could figure out what Willingham thought, although I hear he really enjoyed the golf course.

        I do think BK is all-in re ND.

      • runners00 - Dec 30, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        Thank you.

        From my perspective, the whole “ND Man” thing is a bit overblown. What I want is someone who can coach. First. And Second. And Third. If you want a priest, go to church. If you want to win football games, get a coach — and get a coach who can get the players needed to win football games.

        As for being somoene who is in love with the fight song, or someone who grew up (like I did) watching ND every Saturday and talking about it at church on Sunday, I don’t need that person. I need someone who can coach.

        Now, I do think that Jack has to be that kind of guy because Jack helps to set the standards inside the athletic department. Attributes like attending class, behaving responsibly in the community, respecting the rules while performing exceptionally on the field, taking care of one another in tough times, etc. — these are the values of the ND athletic department. And Jack needs to embrace them and get Coach Kelly to embrace them to be successful.

      • nudeman - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        Hard to argue with that. I sort of stuck in the mold of finding the guy you talk about – the one who eats/sleeps ND, clean cut, Irish Catholic, toothy smile, etc etc.

        Ara was all this, except Catholic; Lou was all this, except Irish. Devine was most of this but had no personality. Interestingly, Kelly is ALL of this, except some of us wonder how real his commitment is with the Lions thing last year.

        But back to your point – you’re right. Someone who can coach trumps all.
        Give me a foul mouthed Presbyterian who has a disdain for the media and is hard on the eyes, complete with a gap tooth grin. If the man can recruit and coach, I’m all in. Guys with bad breath and BO are welcome as well.

    • tucsonfan - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      Deacon, you don’t have any basis for either of your contentions–whether he is an ND man or not is just your opinion. I think he is, that’s just my opinion.

      Regarding not adjusting to the talent he is coaching, you must have missed the last two seasons entirely. In 2012 he adjusted his offense to take into account EG’s lack of experience, and by year end had truly developed him into an elite QB. He also replaced injured defensive secondary players with young receivers he taught how to play CB and Safety. He went to the BCS title game.

      This year he dealt with a 3rd string QB starter and won 9 games, despite the QB situation and the loss of a large portion of his defense and parts of his O-line to injuries.

      I think your assertion in that regard is nonsensical.

  5. deaconjack - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:03 PM


    Were you looking in the mirror?

  6. deaconjack - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:23 PM


  7. deaconjack - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:28 PM


    Of course we are better off than four years ago. But he still doesn’t get it and adjusts poorly. I saw all of the teams coached by those you mentioned and a few more back to Leahy. Kelly has potential and it will show more so when he sheds his ego. I am not anti ND as I bleed green.

    • tucsonfan - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      Deacon, I go back to Leahy as well, and while Kelly isn’t among the great Irish coaches yet, he shows promise.

      As for shedding his ego, name me a successful coach who doesn’t have an ego.

  8. deaconjack - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:39 PM


    And what do you find laughable?

    • wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      Laughable? Did I use that word?

  9. fnc111 - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    The Chicago Bears just copied the ND play at Pitt. Football players are really dumb these days.

    • wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:58 PM

      Makes me feel a little better about Sheldon Day. If even the pros do that. . . . But just a teeny bit better. A really dumb play that gift-wrapped a TD for the Packers.

  10. don74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    Couple of things I read…

    A couple of weeks ago Bruce Feldman, CFB writer for CBS, wrote after speaking with college DC’s and HC that played ND this year that the ND running backs weren’t feared and were easy to defend against. They didn’t see any of the runners as a threat.

    Maybe that’s why there was a running back by committee and maybe that’s why the O was what it was.

    Losing Bryant to injury was big.

    I also read a twitter post from Feldman that Kelly changed the call sheet and O game plan at the walk through Friday for the Pinstripe Bowl. There was far less checking at the line…..

    He went out of his way to compliment TR for playing an offense he hadn’t seen in a couple of years.

    My guess is next year the full blown spread will be revealed as he will have the pieces in place.

    I was impressed with the OLine yesterday considering there were 4 young guys and when Hanratty went down another first timer came in.

    All in all yesterday was a fitting ending for the season. Inconsistent play with many bright spots as well as many head scratching (or hair pulling) areas of mental and physical lapses.

    9 months for Rice.

    • wisner74 - Dec 29, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      I may have missed it, but I never did hear ESPN explain Hanratty’s injury. Still don’t know. I thought their whole broadcast crew lost interest in the game’s final minutes. They even failed to get a camera on one of the plays while they were doing a sideline shot instead.

  11. deaconjack - Dec 29, 2013 at 8:14 PM


    His statements reveal he hasn’t caught on. He has minimized ND tradition and rivalries openly. When he caught some flak for that he has tried to convince people that he has changed and I am not convinced.

    I will try to answer your questions. First of no one gets out of bed in the morning trying to ruin ND football. People make bad decisions along the way as we all do. I am sure that Fr Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick think they have the right man or they would not have hired him. An effective coach does not have to know what an ND man is about or what ND is about but I believe if he does he increases his chances of winning, gains more support from the fans and increases the chance of having closer relationships with his players and increases his chances of being a winner. The fact that he may aspire to coaching at a higher level has nothing to do with him being an ND man.

    While I think that his best choice at quarterback this year was Tommy R, I don’t believe he gave him the best chance to succeed with the offense scheme he tried to use. Incorporating a solid running game with some deception I believe would have been more successful.

    With regard to the brand I somewhat agree. It generates of lot of money but also it needs to. Notre Dame is only one of two or three handfuls of programs that finish in the black if proper accounting is used. A little research will verify that.

    Notre Dame is a Catholic University first. The university does have a football program that is important but it does not define the school and should not leave the core beliefs out of the picture.

    Kelly has some adjusting to do to become what we all want him to be–a very successful coach. Many knowledgeable football people think he is still adjusting.

    I happen to be a grad, I lived next to the university growing up, I saw my first game in 1944, my father graduated from ND and taught there for a period of time and I truly love the place. I was fortunate to have had that experience.

    May next year be more successful. Go Irish!!

    • tucsonfan - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:27 PM

      So I guess you are a loyal ND fan, but have no eye for coaching talent, Deacon. Try fact based decision making rather than emotion–it will make you feel much better.

    • runners00 - Dec 30, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      “An effective coach does not have to know what an ND man is about or what ND is about but I believe if he does he increases his chances of winning, gains more support from the fans and increases the chance of having closer relationships with his players and increases his chances of being a winner.”

      Crazy talk. An effective coach wins. He doesn’t need to know all about the tradition of the school and the football program and the rivalries. It may be nice that he does. Charlie Weis certainly got the importance of Michigan, Michigan State and USC. He also had the worst season in football history.

      To win, an effective coach has to motivate his players to play their best every single week. One way of doing this is to explain what it’s all about at Notre Dame. You get the players to believe that a dominating offensive line is the key to a successful offense and at Notre Dame, the goal, week in and week out, is a dominating offensive line. Likewise, you convince the players that the defensive front seven are essential to stopping the run and forcing the opposing offense to throw at our quick and agile cornerbacks.

      Brian Kelly has done this for most of the games he’s coached at Notre Dame. Sure, there was the drop at Pittsburgh this season. And there were some poor games last year, too, when we were very fortunate to have won. But, be fair. Before Coach Kelly, Notre Dame’s defense ranked in the bottom half of all D1 schools — year in and year out. Regularly, we gave up 38 points to top 25 teams and we struggled against inferior opponents all the time. Now we are in the top quarter and last year we were number 2 overall defense in college football (and please don’t tell me it was all Manti).

      Kelly changed the culture. We’re winning now. 9-4 isn’t great but it’s far better than 2008 or 2007.

      • nudeman - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:39 PM

        This season was maddening; more so than 2011 with fumbles being returned 99 yards for TDs against us seemingly every week.

        Having said that … you’re right.
        It was VERY imperfect, but better than the CW, Ty and Davie years.

  12. fnc111 - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    Almost a perfect off season. No. 1 win percentage back in ND’s hands then I just needed a playoff berth for the Bears. What an embarrassment the Bears defense is. How do you not pick up the ball?????

  13. deaconjack - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    Two for one. His ego is in the way of tradition. Holtz understood tradition and still kept his ego. With regard to adjusting he has a way to go. There still remains inconsistency at the highest level. And that is on Kelly. I do think he is very capable of being very successful at ND.
    And yes it is only my opinion. Opinions are what this blog is about.

  14. deaconjack - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:54 PM


    You say he isn’t among the great ones yet and I agree. Perhaps our difference relates to what he needs to improve on. Remember we are on the same side.

  15. fitz79 - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    Kelly was national coach of the year in 2012 and I have faith he will achieve that title again before all is said and done.

  16. NotreDan - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Deacon you are right on. Our scheme was a giant mismatch for our personnel, all year. Go check my posts after temple for this theme.

    And I don’t think BK really gets the ND magic either. A master coach can leverage it into championships.

    • mtflsmitty - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:19 AM

      I really value posts like that one, Dan. Self-congratulatory, and taking subjective commentary to an entirely new level. But you’re right. BK doesn’t get the ND magic. Now Gerry Faust! There was a guy who really drew upon the ol’ ND magic and leveraged it…mmmmmm…..into……ah, forget it.

      I know I’m being a bit of a jerk. Sorry. But I just can’t get my head around all the negative energy around BK. He’s the first good coach in nearly two decades. He’s doing a great job recruiting and he has returned the program to winning percentages consistent with our historical averages. We actually have a football PROGRAM again. He seems to be a strict disciplinarian (see Holtz), and doesn’t pander to 5-star egos who feel they aren’t getting enough PT as freshmen. His assistants are coveted as head coaching candidates at other universities. But he doesn’t ooze the traits of an ND man, it would seem. Holtz did apparently. But never mind that he delivered 3+ losses 7 out of his 11 seasons as head coach.

      Some comments earlier today regarding the new DC, who’s noted for aggressive pash rush, etc, is a welcome addition without ever coaching a down at ND. Meanwhile, the poster offered nothing but good riddance to Diaco, who’s represented the university well while leading one of the best defenses in college football. Diaco was apparently not aggressive enough to make that poster feel good about (hear the voice-over guy who says, “Sunday Sunday Sunday, US 30 Dragstrip”) the dominance of our defense.

      The lack of loyalty, the absence of gratitude for a job well-done, the nit-picking, the complaining “he’s not an ND man”. Geez! It’s exhausting. Then to hear Dan say BK isn’t tapping into the ND magic is just nonsense.

      Sorry for the rant. I’ll go to bed now.

      • c4evr - Dec 30, 2013 at 10:36 AM

        A lot of talk here about being a ND man. It’s all hooey. The reality of ND coaching going all the way back to Parseghian is that ND represents the last meaningful coaching position any of these guys had. Everybody who has held the head coaching position at this program, with the possible exception of Holtz, has either left coaching or took a position considered a significant downgrade. And Hotz made a lateral move only after a couple of years off after the pressure cooker he endured here. BK is the first (I don’t count Faust, he was more of an experiment of Dr. Moreau) guy to join the conversation who wasn’t at the top of his perceived parabolic curve… and it has shown. He was ill equipped to take the reigns, evidenced by his ‘Get used to it.’ Defensive posture and his ‘I’ve been doing this for 20 years’ bull. Herein lies the conflict – he’s on an upward trajectory in his career (or so he thinks) and ND has never, ever been a stepping stone to greater success.

      • NotreDan - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:11 PM


        Maybe I’m not old enough to have the same perspective. My evaluation of BK is based on the performance of the team versus current competition.

        MANY times this year (read some of Nude’s non-TR beef) the team was flat, unprepared, wasted time, etc. All coaching issues.

        When I say he doesn’t get the ND Magic, I mean that (IMO) there is a unique set of motivating circumstances at ND that would allow a coach to “get more” out of players based on pride and emotion versus the freakish athleticism of the SEC kids that can’t make the admission hurdle at ND. The fact that we didn’t see that emotion this year is 1) a lack of leaders on the team (which are picked by the coaches by the way) and 2) an inability of the head coach to foster it in general. I’m thinking with his DC pick BK might be trying to remedy this..?

        As for being self-congratulatory… I took SO MUCH crap early in the year for calling out things that are now “common knowledge” in the sports analyst ranks that I simply feel vindicated.

      • runners00 - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:13 PM

        Amen. Kelly is the first good coach in nearly two decades. And I don’t mean to congratulate myself – -I’m not — but I will point out again that in the four years that he’s been here, Notre Dame’s defense has vastly improved compared to the four years before Kelly was around:

        Defense: Points Allowed
        2006: 67th
        2007: 73rd
        2008: 42nd
        2009: 63rd

        2010: 23rd
        2011: 24th
        2012: 2nd
        2013: 28th.

        That’s right: in Charlie’s best year (2006, 10-3), Notre Dame’s defense was still a bomb: 67th. We lost to LSU that year 41-14 and were destroyed by Southern California 44-24. Michigan also put up 47 points.

        The anti-Kelly crowd gave us Charlie Weis. He was the Notre Dame man — the guy with the schematic advantage. Please. Notre Dan and Deacon and c and the others of you who claim to be loyal to the Irish, stop blathering on about how bad Kelly is (or how mediocre he is or how weak he is or whatever). He won nine games with a backup quarterback and a defense that started 19 different guys — one without a starting safety and one that lost a future NFL lineman in Nix for chunk of a seaon. He’s a very good coach and one I’ve greatly enjoyed watching. We’re lucky to have him.

      • nudeman - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:49 PM

        These are all great comments.
        c4, he is arrogant with that crap, but that – BY ITSELF – doesn’t bother me so much. But I do believe there is a direct line from that attitude to why we see the same failures every year. Is he capable of morphing into an open minded man of change? Doesn’t seem like it.

        NotreDan … you put it better in one paragraph what it took me 190 posts to say. The thing we saw ARE coaching issues. And with his “I’ve been doing this 20 years” mantra, I’m not convinced that next year the special teams will be better, they’ll get the plays in on time, or the red zone O will be something other than terrible.

        runners … agree, he’s the best they’ve had since Holtz. But I see his greatness as a CEO, program building coach, NOT as is a good game day coach, and this is bothersome. It doesn’t COMPLETELY undermine all the other good things he does, but it undermines a LOT of it.

  17. NotreDan - Dec 29, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    And nude, 190 comments later, you are spot on brother. 2 timeouts, 20 minutes, 3 points.


    • irishpuma - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:13 AM

      Dan right there with you bro, good stuff deacon.

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