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The good, the bad and the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Rutgers

Dec 30, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Dan Fox AP

A day after watching Cincinnati, Miami and Michigan all end their season in ugly, embarrassing fashion, Notre Dame’s lethargic 29-16 victory over Rutgers doesn’t look so bad. It wasn’t always the prettiest football, and the Irish left a lot of points on the board, but in the end Notre Dame went home happy and ended the season a respectable 9-4.

” A good year, but we want more,” head coach Brian Kelly said after the game. “It’s not enough for us. 9-4 is a good year for Notre Dame, it’s not what we sign up for every year. We wanted a little bit more out of this year.”

We’ll going to spend this week looking back at the Irish season. But before we shift our focus, let’s go through the good, the bad and the ugly from Notre Dame’s Pinstripe Bowl victory.

THE GOOD

Lots of Plays. The Irish set a season high in plays and first downs against Rutgers, getting 90 plays off and 31 first downs. The previous high for plays this season was 75, so the Irish making a 20 percent improvement is pretty significant.

After the game, Brian Kelly talked about the decision to run most of the offense out of the spread, crediting Rees for being able to handle the change, considering he hadn’t run the system since 2011.

“He hasn’t run this offense since two years ago,” Kelly said. We were in spread virtually the whole game. He’s so smart. You can go in and run a system with him.

“He just has the ability to pick up all the things that we can do offensively. Today was case and point where we were able to do some things that we haven’t done in a couple years and it looked like it was pretty easy for him.”

Getting the offense to move at a faster pace was something Irish fans were clamoring for all season. With the exception of a few sequences against USC, the Irish rarely did it. While they didn’t cash in on the plays and yards they racked up, it’s a step in the right direction.

Zack Martin. You’ve got to hand it to Martin for keeping the run game moving and Rees protected. The senior put on quite a display during his final game with the Irish, taking home the bowl’s MVP trophy for leading the Irish offense.

After the game, Kelly heaped heavy praise on Martin, calling him his the best lineman he’s ever coached, impressive considering Joe Staley from Central Michigan went in the first round to the 49ers in 2007. But Kelly talked about Martin’s ability to make the linemen around him better.

“I call it the Larry Bird effect. An offensive lineman can make others better around him,” Kelly said. “He does that. He’s made that offensive line. Now, Harry Hiestand is an outstanding offensive line coach, but Zack  Martin needs to have some of that credit placed on him as well, because those linemen play so well because of his leadership. He’s an outstanding and a unique player.”

Martin’s MVP trophy for his performance was the rare time an offensive lineman gets credit in a bowl game. How rare? Consider the last time an offensive lineman won an MVP at a bowl was in 1959, when Penn State’s Jay Huffman won it at the Liberty Bowl. Bear Bryant was coaching against the Nittany Lions in his first bowl game.

Troy Niklas. After not being featured as much the past few weeks, Troy Niklas put together a very nice performance against the Rutgers defense, catching four balls for 76 yards. Niklas was a big play weapon down the field and did a nice job blocking at the point of attack as well. (Even if one block went a little overtime and cost the Irish 15 yards.)

Jesse Palmer raised a few eyebrows when he said during the broadcast that Niklas received a second round draft grade, the same as Tuitt, somewhat surprising considering Troy’s underwhelming body of work. But one look at his size, strength and athleticism and you get the picture on why he makes professional teams salivate.

Irish Illustrated’s Pete Sampson caught up with Niklas ($) after the game to talk about the decision Niklas suddenly has to make.

“Coach was like, ‘Well, there’s really not a decision to be made. We think you have first round potential, so you for sure should come back. It’s not even a decision,’” Niklas told Sampson.

Niklas’ draft grade was anywhere from the second round to the fourth, so I tend to side with Kelly on what Niklas should do. But the Irish’s elite tight end placement in the NFL just keeps on rolling.

The Irish Running Game. Both Cam McDaniel and Tarean Folston did a nice job on the ground against a Rutgers defense that’s statistically stingy. While the running game was struggling in the first half, the Irish pounded it when it counted, and both backs did a nice job.

Kyle Brindza. The junior kicker made five field goals, tying the NCAA record for most in a bowl game. After missing a 44-yarder into a stiff breeze, Brindza made another clutch fourth quarter kick that extended the Irish lead.

“Kyle Brindza, when we need a kick, he drills one late in the game,” Kelly said. “He is so good in the fourth quarter, regardless of what the distance is. You’ve got to put that guy in, he’s the best kicker. I’ve got to put him on the field, and he goes and kicks the field goal regardless of the conditions.”

Stephon Tuitt. If this is it for the big fella, he had a nice performance. Tuitt’s 1.5 sacks push him into a tie for third place on the career sack list at Notre Dame, even with Victor Abimiri’s 21.5.

I’ve got no new inside information, but I still think Tuitt makes the decision to come back. There are just too many bad plays on tape for the junior this season, who could become one of the dominant players in college football next year… and earn his college degree.

KeiVarae Russell. Great day in coverage for the sophomore cornerback. His three pass breakups were very impressive.

Turnovers and Sacks. Notre Dame hadn’t picked off four passes in a game since Denard Robinson and the Wolverines threw five last year. And the four sacks were a nice effort as well.

The Future. It’s hard not to see how explosive this offense could be next year. Kelly gave a hint at his expectations heading into next season after the game.

“We’d like our offense to have a little bit more multi-dimensional,” Kelly said. “We had five yards rushing from the quarterback who ran 90 plays. If we have a quarterback next year that has the ability to run the ball, we will be difficult to defend.”

(Here’s a hint: Everett Golson can run.)

THE BAD

Special Teams Units. Outside of Brindza, the special teams were awful. You can blame the injuries, but there’s no good excuse for some terrible cover teams, and expect that to be addressed this offseason.

Kelly had to joke about the coverage, complimenting the sky kick the Irish used late to finally slow down the Rutgers return game.

It’s a little simplistic to put this all on Scott Booker, the young assistant that took over special teams duties to go along with coaching tight ends. But perhaps Kelly will turn this unit over to Mike Elston, who could add a coordinator title back to his business card as a reward for staying in South Bend.

Red Zone. The good news? Notre Dame scored seven times. The bad news? Five of those scores were field goals. That helps explain why the Irish had to sweat out a game that shouldn’t have been close. Red zone offense has been the one lagging piece of the puzzle for Brian Kelly in South Bend, and Tommy Rees’ limitations as a runner go a long way towards pinpointing some of the problems.

But you also can’t drop three touchdown passes. Execution seemed to be the biggest thing that bothered Kelly after the game.

“Out red zone offense today was simply catching the football,” Kelly said. “We had great looks, exactly what we wanted. We ran a boot, came out clean, overthrew him. We actually came out with the next play and Troy Niklas fell down. Had another opportunity and didn’t get it to TJ. So I’m really happy with what we did today in the red zone. We just didn’t execute. We’ve got to throw it and catch it down there.”

Again, a running quarterback will be the biggest addition in the red zone, especially considering Golson won’t be seeing things for the first time.

Field Position. How ugly were things? Rutgers had a +14 differential on starting field position, a monster number that’s not usually talked about. According to Bill Connelly of SBNation, teams win 96.9 percent of the time when you’re starting field position is at least +16.

Rutgers wasn’t quite at the magic number, but it was close.

The Atkinson Situation. The Irish were shorthanded at running back after George Atkinson and Jalen Brown were suspended for the bowl game for violating a team rule. Various reports mention that both George and twin brother Josh took to Twitter to protest the ruling, another violation of team rules.

Entering their senior seasons, it doesn’t appear that either Atkinson brother will become a breakout player as many hoped. But it’s a situation worth monitoring how this all shakes out, with Kelly saying he hasn’t decided whether George’s suspension will effect his future with the team.

THE UGLY

The Field Conditions. Come on, Yankees! You had us begging for Notre Dame’s turf!

Chris Fowler’s Choke. Literally. ESPN announcer Chris Fowler needing rescuing at halftime after he started to choke on a chicken sandwich. Luckily his partner in the booth, Jesse Palmer, gave Fowler the Heimlich Maneuver and dislodged the sandwich.

Impressive work by Palmer. Fowler is one of college football’s treasures and a very ugly situation is now something we can laugh about.

177 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. paulhargis53 - Dec 30, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Leave Bob alone. If he wasnts to continue to look stupid, that’s his God given right.

    Although it appears I’ve awoken some very deep seated feelings in the confused young man.
    Bob, I’m flattered, but as I’ve stated, you don’t have the correct parts for me.

    I do think its great that you have come out to all of your ND brethren though.
    It must be so liberating for you.

    Seriously, your protesting aside, you do somehow think you’re “winning”.
    This isn’t fun for you. Fun is continuously getting verbally beaten down?
    Maybe Masochism is your thing?

    Its amazing to me that I can find at least one person on every sports board that continues to post to me
    foolishly thinking they can get the better of me.
    The big(one of many) difference between you and I, is that you actually care
    What our fellow posters think of you and your comments.
    I on the other hand do not. You complain that my posts have nothing to do with the article.
    No kidding! That’s what I do. I find a dope(and you are) and see how much he’s willing to take.
    Its amazing how people just continue to come back for more. It fascinates me.

    I’m rooting for you to break lakerluvers record. Your fellow posters are already suck of your responding to me.
    Its only a few short months for you to be the new king.

    Then comes the inevitable screen name change.

    I might have to make one myself, maybe it will be one that will be an ally with you. Could it be Paulo Hargis?
    You’ll never know….

    • mediocrebob - Dec 31, 2013 at 12:33 AM

      Ok bud. Thanks for clearing it up for me. Me thinks you are confused though. Me thinks you care more than most people on here. Me thinks you thinks I care about “looking stupid” but me thinks you’re the one on another teams blog wasting your time trying to ” get me” when in reality, it affects me in no way whatsoever. Me thinks you spend more time on here now than you did before you started posting to me every day, 5 times a day when I still spend the same amount of tîme on here as I always have.

      Keep comin. You and Nude. ( even though I respect you a little Nude).

      • tucsonfan - Dec 31, 2013 at 1:36 AM

        Bob, you and Hargis waste a lot of time here, buddy–I just skip most of your interchanges

      • mediocrebob - Dec 31, 2013 at 1:45 AM

        I guess were all just wasting our time. Thanks for your input.

      • paulhargis53 - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:46 AM

        What a colossal waste of time your post was.
        You just typed a few outright lies and essentialy, I know you ate but what am I.

        And, you also said you respect a nude man. Enough with the homosexual stuff,
        Its good that you’re out and all, jus no need to rib it in our faces
        ( I hope that didn’t turn you on I’m not trying to mislead you)

        Its so great watching you squirm and trying to justify why you continue to post back

    • mediocrebob - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:03 AM

      You’re really infatuated with this homosexual stuff paul. That’s all you post about now?

      • paulhargis53 - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:15 AM

        Bob, Why do you even ponder posting?

        All you can seem to do is regurgitate what I write.

        I’m hammering(don’t get excited) you on that,
        because you have a penchant for calling other
        grown men sweetie and you’ve actually told a man
        that you love him, a lot.

        How is this fun for you? You don’t know how to debate.
        Your attempts at comebacks are worthless. Its gotten to the
        point that I pity you. Soon, your fellow posters will turn on you.

        Once you finally ignore me, I will disappear. They want you to
        ignore me, yet you stubbornly cling to thinking you have the
        upper hand. You’re a felcher, plain and simple.

      • mediocrebob - Dec 31, 2013 at 4:57 PM

        You’re definition of debate: spew non facts and back them by calling people homosexuals and asking why they comment on Notre Dame football.

    • 1historian - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:22 AM

      Not up to your usual standards.

      “Your fellow posters are already suck of your responding to me.”

      Spell much?

      I strongly advise some time off and then return to us all ablaze when the last snowflake is gone.

    • wisner74 - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:31 PM

      It’s “you and me,” Paul; not “you and I.” (Haven’t you noticed that we insist on perfect grammar, spelling and punctuation on this site yet?)

    • 1historian - Jan 2, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      Paulie – the very second in which you deceive your (bad) self into believing that you are being devilishly clever – you’re NOT.

      You seem tired, a little worn out – take a few weeks off, read some P. G. Wodehouse, some H.L.Menken and some whoever.

      Read, meditate, fart, belch, take more than one dump per day, stock up on your pithy and then rejoin us on or around recruiting day.

  2. paulhargis53 - Dec 30, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    Yikes!
    * wants. *sick *paull

    Stupid autocorrect.

  3. frankb51 - Dec 30, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    Earlier in the day, as I have been doing during the entire season, I posted my weekly bash on Bennett Jackson. Surprised at the response 4 fer and 21 agin. I am surmising that the 21 against my post are the cornerbacks that are currently rated #18 through #38 (inclusive). Or the 21 one of you knuckleheads are vision impaired.

    btw, rumor has it that BK will interview for Lions job??!! any truth to that rumor?

  4. NotreDan - Dec 30, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    I’m going to rip out paul’s arm and beat fnc with it.

    Golson can’t run, pffff. %&* lickin +&# suckin u$c fan.

    Then, we’re all gonna gather round the tard pile, load the @$$ canons with hot wings, Genessee Cream Ale and Spanish nuts right before we christen the amatuers with some tailgate honey.

    • nudeman - Dec 30, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      In

      • irishdrg1 - Dec 31, 2013 at 1:00 AM

        Count me in from Texas, will be trying to get tickets to Mich and Stan games GO IRISH

      • NotreDan - Dec 31, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        The UM ND Game is the big target for the 2014 tailgate in South Bend. Stay tuned.

    • ndgoldandblue - Dec 30, 2013 at 11:00 PM

      Genesee Cream Ale? How about Utica Club? That’s a fine beer. Technically the first beer sold after prohibition.

    • wisner74 - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      Genny Cream is OK by me. How ’bout you, Bob from Syracuse?

  5. newmexicoirish - Dec 30, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    I think it was Fox sports that ran a segment this evening on potential candidates for the open NFL positions. Brian Kelly’s name was not even mentioned. Kevin Sumlin, David Shaw, Jon Gruden ( I think by law Gruden’s name has to be mentioned) etc. we’re all discussed, but nothing on BK.

    That isn’t irrifutible prove that he isn’t going anywhere, but apparently the folks at Fos Sports don’t think he is.

    • 1historian - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      Two spelling errors in one word, use of the word ‘prove’ instead of ‘proof’ and a misspelling of the word ‘Fox’ – ?

      • c4evr - Dec 31, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        Shouldn’t your name be 1grammatician then?

      • c4evr - Dec 31, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        Maybe not since ‘word’ in your dictionary means both sentence and word. If you are going to throw stones in glasses houses, perhaps you should proofread first.

    • wisner74 - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:36 PM

      Paul, see what I mean about spelling?

      • 1historian - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:44 PM

        c4evr;

        3:36 – clever idea, but the applicable word would be ‘grammarian’.

        4:04 – aside from the fact that my post seemed to irritate you – wtf are you talking about?

        The proper word is ‘glass’ house, not ‘glasses’. Perhaps you should proofread the way I always do.

      • c4evr - Jan 1, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        Tooshay

  6. getsome99 - Dec 30, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    Chip Kelly’s Eagles won the NFCE because 3 other teams in the division made certain of it. I’ll give him some credit though because they did win 10 games. However, as much as I think Brian Kelly is the right man for the ND job, I don’t see what he has done yet to warrant serious consideration for an NFL head coaching job.

    A championship within the next 2 years could change that and if that’s his motivation, I’ll take it. I have even more faith in our AD that the program is on solid ground. As long as Kelly gets ND back to being the most coveted job in college football, he will have done his job here.

  7. yaketyyacc - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    what the Rutger’s game pointed out is that Notre Dame has a LOT of work to do. Hopefully the offseason will encourage the team and coaches to dedicate themselves to improvement in speed, aggressiveness, play calling(not having to look over to the sidelines for what to do), and knowing the play called.
    We have a good foundation for a better year in 2014. Let us not get to the end of 2014, and say, hey, 2015 will be the year. All of us who post are rooting for you Irish, it is up to you to show us, you know what “play like a champion” means.

  8. hyde - Dec 31, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    How about that secondary turning around and looking for the ball?! Where’s that been all year?

  9. ndfenian - Dec 31, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    What did I like about the game?
    I did like seeing the two back looks, i.e. the T.J. Jones’ jet-sweeps. I have wanted to see two backs of some sort all year because it forces the defense to read first, and then react. Did we run those earlier in the year and I missed something? I also liked the screen pass to Folston. Where has that play been all year? I was satisfied that the offensive line controlled the game in the second half and we were able to run the ball. I feel that the defense played well.. nothing awe-inspiring, but well enough. It was nice to see some sacks and the turnovers. Jessie Palmer nailed it when he talked about ND not being able to put pressure on quarterbacks as their biggest issue. I’m happy for Tommy and the seniors. They deserved to go out winners. This group of seniors is certainly not the group that graduated in 91′ or 92′, but they have had the most success that we’ve seen in a long, painful time.

    What did I not like about this game? The fact that we struggled to beat a very mediocre Rutgers team. Rees’ receivers didn’t do him any favors in his last outing, dropping three touchdown passes. Fuller’s diving attempt would have been a great catch. You’d like to see him catch that. Daniels did not have a good game, IMO, having one go right through his hands in the end zone. Jones never drops passes, so I’ll credit that one to his injury. Nonetheless, ND should have scored 8 to 16 more points in this game, but again, Kelly’s squads struggle mightily in the red zone. Palmer pointed out correctly that the best red zone teams are the ones that can run the ball. The kickoff coverage is a disaster! How can a team that wants to brand itself as “physical, power football” have that many embarrassing arm tackles on coverage? And again, as I watch this bowl season I see other teams returning punts for touchdowns, even with the difficulties of the spread punt/new rules. Why can’t we?? It is time for an actual special teams coordinator, or at the very least, somebody new taking over.

    What do I think about the season? It was a decent year, considering Golson’s absence and the very unusual amount of injuries on defense, especially to the front seven. A disappointing year, nonetheless. I think we all agree that if this team could have run the ball 40 to 50 more yards per game, and added 10 rushing touchdowns, we would be looking at a 10 or 11 win season.

    • domerboyirish - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      If I recall, didn’t we run a halfback screen pass for about 15 yards? I’d love to see a hell of a lot more of that next year!

      • wisner74 - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:41 PM

        It always seemed to me that Rees had a little more trouble accurately leading a back on screens or flairs than on some of his downfield throws. I guess I thought that was why the Irish didn’t do more of that this season.

      • ndfenian - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:05 AM

        I’ve heard that before about Rees and the screen game, but it doesn’t make much sense to me that Rees could be consistently accurate on intermediate routes, but not when he’s throwing the ball just a couple yards to a back. Maybe it is more difficult to run a screen when you have some many defenders up close to the line of scrimmage.

  10. domerboyirish - Dec 31, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    ‘Ello boys! I’ve been out recently but glad to be back. I see Paul and Bob are continuing their torrid love affair.

    I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the choice of DC. The last time this guy was really successful was a decade ago in an era which I view as pre-read option. He was not good as the Falcons DC and was miserable at Auburn with SEC talent and competition. From what I can see, his best days may be behind him. I fail to see why this is a good hire. He’s just another guy from the Kelly coaching tree that Kelly can control. Another ‘Yes’ man. Ugh. I’m sure the OC will be selected with the same criteria. No one will be hired to question anything or to bring anything new and creative for Kelly to consider.

    For the Pinstripe Bowl broadcast, I was hoping to see a commercial break where Hendricks, Lo Wood and Welch selected a hat indicating which school they were transferring to. It would have been more fun that watching large chunks of the game. At a dead locked halftime, even Chris Fowler tried to get out of watching the rest by chocking. Jesse Palmer wouldn’t let him get out of that easily…

    Keith, thanks for an excellent 2013. Keep up the great work next year. Happy New Year to all.

    • fish95 - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Eric Hanson did some good reporting on VanGorder here:

      http://www.southbendtribune.com/sports/college/notredame/football/notre-dame-football-vangorder-casts-strong-impression/article_71c6c8e6-710d-11e3-ba39-0019bb30f31a.html

      Does not sound like his sources would agree with your assessment … Either way, we should at least get a preview of his recruiting chops as signing season comes to a close.

      Also, I think it’s a plus that VanGorder once wrestled Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship title belt.

      • domerboyirish - Dec 31, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        Yeah, I saw that article but I read several others that weren’t as promising. I read that several players in Atlanta were not disappointed to see him leave.

        I also get worried by his preference to go 4-3 over 3-4. I know, I know, we typically balance both over the course of a game but how many times in the last 15 years can you recall ND switching philosophies and never really seeming to get the right guys to fit the ‘new’ system.

        As an ND fan, I constantly get criticized for ‘living in the past’. Hanson’s article includes praise for Van Gorder from Wayne State and Georgia Southern. Really? I’m sure he was fantastic in 1994. What have you done lately? His recent history isn’t promising. He is not a hire with recent success that is moving up in status to the ND DC job. He was not calling the shots for the Jets; Ryan does. He was the linebacker coach. If he was so good as a DC, then I have to believe that someone would have offered him that position for a team last year?

        I agree with you that his ties to the SEC part of the country might work to our advantage talent-wise IF he can recruit. He still needs to coach them up once they get here.

        Respectfully Fish, this hire just bothers me. If the guy turns out to be tremendous success, you will find me back here eating crow. For the moment, I don’t like it.

      • ndfenian - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:11 AM

        In Keith’s initial article about Van Gorder, he mentioned that Van Gorder tends to run a 3-4 defense, but with more aggressive movement by the linemen. Nonetheless, I can see your concern about his lack of success at recent stops, or what seems to be a lack of great success. Here’s to hoping he’s got something up his sleeve!

  11. Rbmat - Dec 31, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Does anyone find it ironic that Chris “Fowler” almost met his demise at the hand of a “chicken” sandwich? Okay it’s a bit sophomoric, but Keith said we could laugh about it.

    Now if we could just get the taco that Mark May eats in the TB commercial to explode the way they normally do when your eating one in your car and land on his expensive suit I would be happy.

  12. sisqsage - Dec 31, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Please, don’t fall in love with Goldson like he is the answer to the QB vacancy for 2014. We need a plan B, like in solid backups who can takeover and play at a high level if he reverts to making bad decisions on and off the field again. Remember the Michigan and Stanford games of 2012? The offense struggled mightily with him calling the shots. Amazing how Kelly practically wets himself praising Rees to this very day. Remember the first five minutes of the of Oklahoma game this year? That cost us the game and a better bowl. That Hendrix is leaving with just one year of eligibility left is another indictment of our development of QBs in the Kelly Era. He wasn’t the answer either, but the physical skills were there as a frosh and soph. He regressed, which shouldn’t happen to a kid who has ability in a program that says it’s trying to win a national title.

    • wisner74 - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:51 PM

      You can thank Golson and Kiel for the QB quandary ND was in this season. If all had gone according to Kelly’s plan, QB would have been in very good shape with:

      1. Golson
      2. Rees/Kiel
      3. Kiel/Rees
      4. Hendrix

      and Zaire comfortably sitting out the season.

      Kelly praises Rees for two reasons, I think. First, I believe he respects and likes the kid, and second, the last thing Kelly needed this season was for TR either to lose his confidence or become an attitude problem.

      • nudeman - Dec 31, 2013 at 7:03 PM

        From the reading between the lines I did, Kiel wasn’t progressing all that well.
        In fact he was starting to struggle in school too.
        Plus, there was friction with Martin and if you recall MANY thought his 5 star status coming out of HS was bogus.

        Point is, I still think Kelly would have played Rees.

        I hope he does well, but I don’t see him having any kind of breakout at Cincy.
        Any kid who wants the starting job mandated to him has issues

      • wisner74 - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:15 PM

        Kiel clearly needed better adult guidance. Indiana, LSU, Notre Dame, Cincinnati. Four commitments and the kid still hasn’t thrown a pass in a real college game. He’ll be almost as old as Rees is now before he actually plays in a game. It’s kind of sad.

      • 47ndwannabe - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        Touchdown Johnny leads A&M to 9-4 and TR leads ND to 9-4 and gives MState their only loss! Not too shabby, Tommy.

  13. nudeman - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Since it’s obvious Paul is going to be a permanent fixture here, perhaps we should open up another front.

    Paul, what are your thoughts on the sanctity of marriage?

    • wisner74 - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      Marriage? That’s an easy one. How about birth control or abortion? After we get through those and a few others, we can get to the real good stuff like transubstantiation.

  14. paulhargis53 - Dec 31, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Marriage? As the great Dee Snider once said….
    Love is for suckers.

    You all being presumed Catholic, I’m not touching birth control
    or abortion….that is unless Bob has an opinion.
    Then I will disagree with him on general principle.

    Dr. Daniels will not be making a house call, I must go out and meet him.
    I’m hoping to pull of a nice two tapered one tomorrow, I will keep
    You all updated.

    Merry new year all.

  15. paulhargis53 - Dec 31, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    Off*

    • nudeman - Dec 31, 2013 at 10:26 PM

      Paul
      All I’m saying is that you have tremendous potential
      Talking ND football and Bob seems to be about 1/8th of you
      How about guns, immigration, Ted Cruz, the self destruction of the GOP

      You have so much more to offer

      • wisner74 - Dec 31, 2013 at 10:54 PM

        Nude – I’d love to discuss any of those topics with you and Paul, along with favorite Grateful Dead tunes, but I don’t think this is the site for that.

      • paullhargis53 - Jan 1, 2014 at 7:32 AM

        Seriously nudeman? Based on the crap I post on this site you think I have worthwhile views on real topics? That’s weird, wild stuff.

      • mediocrebob - Jan 1, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        :(

      • getsome99 - Jan 1, 2014 at 5:01 PM

        Somebody get this guy some Chapstick.

  16. papadec - Jan 1, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    Oh Good Freakin’ Grief! If these posts/personal assaults are what we can expect for the foreseeable future – arrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! It’s going to be a long Winter.

  17. irishfbfan1 - Jan 1, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Rees was a leader and a damn winner and nothing or nobody will make me feel any different. Here is a guy who came to ND with basically 0 talent, not much athletic ability , no feet whatsoever, and leaves Notre Dame as one if the most prolific passers at a University That had some guys you may have heard of like , Montana, Hanratty, Lujack, Bertelli, Hornung, Lamonica, Quinn, Mirer, Rice, Huarte, to name just a few, go ahead add #11 to that list cause he surpassed them in a variety of categories, he was far more proficient, give Brian Kelly some props for being a damn good football coach as well. I am fired up about the future of this football team! Hey , we get #5 back. Oh yea, he can do all the things that Tommy did, just one more thing, he got wheels to boot (no pun intended!) Golson. Will be a finalist for the Heisman his Sr year! You heard it here from Irishfbfan1, the official voice of the Irish of ND Nation according to me! Just another notre dame lover amongst the millions a over the world according to everybody else lol Have a good one and remember….

    Go Irish always and forever!

    • nudeman - Jan 1, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      I knew someone would invoke his name in the same sentence with the all time ND greats, and I predicted as much a few days ago. Problem I have with that is twofold:

      1) It’s based entirely on stats. “Rees threw XX TD passes at ND and Montana/Huarte/Bertelli/Hornung/etc only threw YY”. That entirely ignores how the game has changed from being predominantly a running game to a passing game. Even Mirer, though much more recent than Huarte, et al was coached by a guy who loathed the forward pass. And you neglected to cite their INT totals which were far less than Rees’s. Quinn threw more than 50% more TD passes than Rees and only 2 more INTs despite nearly 600 more attempts. And no mention of rushing stats? Rees rushed for negative yards in his career.

      2) Several of the guys you mentioned won NCs (Montana, Bertelli, Hanratty and Rice); Hornung and Huarte won a Heismann (maybe Bertelli too; can’t recall); Quinn and Mirer were 1st round picks. Lamonica had a long NFL career.

      So your spiel is ridiculous, basically.

      • getsome99 - Jan 1, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        What about Wins and Losses?

      • wisner74 - Jan 1, 2014 at 5:43 PM

        Look, you know I’m a Rees defender on this site, but even I have to admit that TR does not deserve to be listed with those Irish greats. I do think he has done a fine job under the circumstances, and I stick with my position that we’ve been lucky not only to have him on the roster, but also lucky that he has been the kind of team player he has been.

        But for as much as I like the kid, he does not belong with the likes of most of those other ND QBs, much less Heisman trophy winners. Nude’s right about the numbers. But I will say those numbers are quite good, and many here refuse to give TR his due for what he has accomplished and the places he has earned in the ND record books.

  18. c4evr - Jan 1, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Read 2 excellent stories on ESPN about one elite coach ad one who will be an elite coach.
    Kevin Sumlin has flat out refused to talk to NFL teams because of his commitment to A&M and family. Bill B gets his vote for NFL coach of the year because he consistently gets double digit wins because his teams are mentally tough and he overcomes injuries – with a backup who never took a meaningful snap in college btw . BK could benefit from taking a page from their books.

  19. viktory2013 - Jan 1, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    Problem this season wasn’t Kelly, although it’s his responsibility as head coach. Same guy who took the team to a championship game last season, he didn’t suddenly go brain dead.

    The difference was last season we had Teo kicking everyone’s butt on defense, and this season we had Jackson. Seriously, guys? It’s the reason Tuitt and Nix were so so, too. Yeah I know they were banged up, but who isn’t in football? There was no one screaming, yelling, and making plays. When Jackson and Calabrese aren’t missing plays, you can barely hear them speak. The defense played exactly that way.

    Same with the offense. Last year, Theo Riddick was ripping up defenses and refused to be tackled. Did you see him at the end of the SC game? Jersey ripped and filthy. And Golson driving defenses crazy with his energy? This year it was Rees and Jones, whispering and shy. Jones is a decent little receiver, but a leader he’s not. And Rees might be inspiring to cub scouts, but not a major college team. The offense played that way all season. It’s the reason we could never really dominate even weak, undersized teams like Rutgers and Temple. The offense was uninterested and sleepwalking except for a few bursts here and there.
    Kelly might have yelled and screamed (and I believe that’s why he get so furious), but as soon as they hit the field, they were bored and unfocused after a few plays.
    If you don’t have leaders on the field kicking ass, you’re wasting your breath…and that’s what happened this season.

    • nudeman - Jan 1, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      I agree with most of that, but there were too many things this year that were also problems his first 3 years for Kelly to be absolved.

      You can’t give him a pass.

      • mediocrebob - Jan 1, 2014 at 7:31 PM

        True but Kelly isn’t out there playing. The problem I have is that there are a lot of people I’ve read on here that think Kelly had some sort of love affair with Rees while the others thought that Kelly was ridiculous when he’d get in his face after one of these mistakes he became accustomed to making. Which is it is my question?

      • nudeman - Jan 1, 2014 at 7:59 PM

        Well that’s simple. I never saw Kelly blister Rees on the sidelines like he did to other players. I’m sure he gave him a earful here and there. But never the big, exploding purple face.

        Did he have a love affair with Rees? Probably not.
        Circumstances left him with Rees in 2010.
        But here’s the thing: Despite saying Rees would be held accountable for his mistakes, he was never once benched, and even you would admit there were times he clearly should have been. By comparison, Dayne Crist got one half of football in 2011. That’s where the love-affair stuff comes from.

      • mediocrebob - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:47 PM

        He got in his face during South Florida game but that doesn’t really matter. I would have to say that we weren’t there in meetings and fall practice leading up to USF game when Crist was benched. Crist had a short leash for whatever reason. I can’t say whether the season would’ve been different than it ended up with DC but I can’t imagine him making a difference.

        As for Tommy never being benched, I’d say he was benched last year. He started the back half of his freshman and most of his soph season and then was beaten out (and he got in trouble) and then is a backup his jr year. Had Kelly benched him this year, he has absolutely nobody to go to as we saw with Hendrix against $C. I wish as much as anybody that there had been another option but there really wasn’t. Rees made a lot of the same mistakes this season that he did 4 years ago, but Kelly’s hands were tied IMO.

      • nudeman - Jan 1, 2014 at 11:13 PM

        Agree with most of that, except that he wasn’t “benched” in 2012.
        He was beaten out.
        In fact, he never once won the starting job in camp.

        I’ve always thought an in depth story on the demise of Crist would make great reading.
        Probably no one outside of this board would care, but I’d love to read it.

        Hugely popular, highly recruited 5 star guy, the heir apparent to Clausen
        To me, going in to 2011 it was a no brainer that he’d be the starter.
        Then one half and BOOM … BK hits the eject button. One half?? For Rees?
        Have always thought there was more to the story than just football.
        Did BK just not like Crist personally? Was he disloyal in some way? Timid?
        He wasn’t bad in 2010 clearly looked to be capable of improving.

        One thing I’ll say is when he got to Kansas, he was just awful. Ruined.
        Maybe BK just saw that earlier than most of us.

      • wisner74 - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        Much like Rees, I thought that Crist was a high-quality team-oriented guy. He certainly had a lot of physical skills that Rees doesn’t have. I saw two problems with him at QB. First, he was not a terribly accurate passer, and second (and this is a bit of speculation on my part) I think he had a tendency to get rattled. You absolutely can’t do that if you’re the QB.

        The 98-yard fumble return on the first possession of the USF game was not his fault. But after marching the team down the field on its first possession to get to the two yard-line, Crist did not play nearly as well the rest of the half.

        Again, this is speculation, but I’m betting that Kelly saw that Crist had not pulled himself together by half-time. That’s the only explanation that I can think of for the fairly dramatic move of pulling DC and inserting Rees then.

  20. ndfenian - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    Well I’m pretty worried about Tuitt leaving, especially after listening to Jessie Palmer on the telecast. Palmer seems to know as much as any analyst about the ND program (except his assertion that we have a balanced offense), and he said the word on the street is that Tuitt is leaving. As a diehard ND fan, it would make sense to me to come back if I was Tuitt. One more year at a beloved school, a chance at cementing legendary status with a great season etc. Maybe the biggest x-factor would be improving his draft status to first round, but second round is pretty damn good, and my gut feeling is that he is leaving. What’s your all’s?

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      it would be all bubblegum and seashells if tuitt came back, and i agree that there are plenty of excellent reasons for him to return. as much as i want him to turn down the NFL money and give ND one more year, there is a ton of NFL money waiting out there for him even as a second round pick so it’s hard to see how/why he would come back. for that matter, i’m surprised there’s not more talk about niklas giving the NFL a hard look right now and maybe there should be as i’m sure there are teams that would just love to get their hands on him, no matter how green and raw they might view his skill set as being right now.

      a risk/reward analysis of staying for another year when you can get drafted and sign most any contract has got to lean towards turning pro, especially when you consider that the insurance policies that guys take out when they decide to come back for another year have pretty steep premiums, to the tune of 8-10K per 1M of benefits. so sure, you can get a 10M policy, but you have to fork over 80-100K. how many college athletes and/or their families have that cash on hand?

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