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Five things we learned: Notre Dame 48, Rice 17

Aug 30, 2014, 9:48 PM EST

Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

The last stormy, humid season opener at Notre Dame Stadium found an infamous place in the Irish history books. Saturday afternoon’s 48-17 drubbing of Rice will be remembered in a much better light.

That’s because the return of Everett Golson took a page out of a Marvel movie’s script. After missing 600 days of football, Golson put on his cape and did his best to make up for lost time, playing a near perfect game as he put up five touchdowns in a breakthrough offensive performance for Notre Dame.

By foot, Golson kept the Owls at bay, scrambling to keep plays alive while single-handedly solving the team’s red zone woes with three rushing touchdowns. Those rushing totals have only been matched by Jarious Jackson and some guy named Hornung, whose stiff-arming trophy sits proudly on display in the football office.

By air Golson was even more impressive, rarely missing a throw as his 14 completions covered 295 yards. Five different Irish receivers caught passes of 25 yards or more, with Golson averaging a hearty 21 yards a completion.

Playing on a new FieldTurf track that favors teams built for speed, the Irish offense paced the attack while Brian VanGorder’s young defense held its own. With an easy victory in the books, let’s look at the five things we learned in the Irish’s 48-17 win over Rice.

 

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After two weeks of nothing but distractions, Brian Kelly’s young Irish team took care of business. 

When head coach Brian Kelly named Everett Golson his starting quarterback 17 days ago, he thought he was eliminating the last big storyline of fall camp. Little did he know, but just 48 hours later the Irish football program would be under seige, with four (and now five) players wrapped up in an academic investigation that had some people wondering if the Golden Dome was burning.

The loss of three front-line starters was a blow, with DaVaris Daniels, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams all expected to play critical roles on the field. But Saturday afternoon the Irish showed no signs of blinking, following their head coach’s mantra of “Next Man In” and taking care of business.

“I was really proud of them today,” Kelly said. “I said before we get into talking about the win, I just want to tell you that I’m proud of the way you’ve handled yourself. And that means a lot moving forward. When your locker room has got that kind of resolve, good things are going to happen to you.”

If the academic mess was mostly self-inflicted, the other obstacles faced this preseason haven’t been. Prostate cancer surgery kept offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock from attending the start of training camp. Graduate assistant (and former Irish captain) Kyle McCarthy is also undergoing chemotherapy while still trying to work with the team.

Add in a knee injury to captain and starting safety Austin Collinsworth suffered on Thursday and you’ve got two chaotic weeks that the Irish not just survived, but won in convincing style.

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Brian Kelly is a pretty good head coach when he’s got Everett Golson at quarterback. 

It’s worth pointing out: With Everett Golson playing, Brian Kelly is 12-1. Without him, Kelly’s 26-14. That’s the difference between getting a statue and hiring a realtor.

With Golson, the Irish offense became the aggressive, downfield, big play attack that Kelly had quietly been advertising since the offseason. And all credit goes to the quarterback who put aside the distraction of returning to the big stage and simply played excellent football.

Golson barely missed a ball if you take away his throw aways and a few drops, one from C.J. Prosise that cost him an even gaudier stat line. But that’s the magic of what Golson does for the Irish offense, a dual-threat runner with a preference to pass.

Put Rice head coach David Bailiff down as a believer.

“Golson’s just an amazing, amazing quarterback,” Bailiff said after the game. “He was a dynamic player a year ago… He’s taken that year off and you can tell he’s matured. You can tell he’s studied the game.”

Of course, doing it against Rice is a lot different than doing it against Michigan, who comes to South Bend next weekend. But on a rainy Saturday, Brian Kelly showed how efficient his offense is when he’s got Everett Golson behind center.

 

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After a year of getting beaten up, Notre Dame’s special teams were special. 

What a difference a year makes. Last year, you couldn’t have blamed the coaching staff from removing any mention of the word special when dealing with Scott Booker’s special teams unit. On Saturday, the Irish return game looked impressive, with both Cody Riggs and Greg Bryant breaking big returns in the punt game and Amir Carlisle breaking a 36-yard kickoff return.

The Irish racked up 80 yards on five punt returns. Last year, the Irish managed just 106 yards all season – surprisingly the best cumulative total of the Kelly era to date.

While Kyle Brindza missed his first field goal attempt and caught a funky hop on his first kickoff that bounced started Rice on the 35, the rest of the rebuilt unit was rock solid, including James Onwualu stuffing Rice’s fake punt attempt short.

The highlight of the afternoon had to be the punt returns by Riggs and Bryant, with three nice returns flipping the field and starting the Irish off with great field position. After a season of getting killed in the “Hidden Yards” ledger, Kelly had perhaps the best special teams day of his career in South Bend.

 

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Notre Dame’s ground game looks like the engine to drive the offense. 

Kelly and offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock found the perfect mix for the running game, and all three backs played great football, even with limited attempts. Cam McDaniel, Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant all averaged at least five yards a carry, with Bryant leading the way with 71 yards and his first career touchdown.

The Irish’s 281 rushing yards were their most since the 2012 Shamrock Series victory over Miami. Their 42 rushing attempts showed a willingness to commit to a balanced offense, as the ground game powered the Irish to the finish.

“We don’t have an exact science,” Kelly said for splitting carries. “I wish I could be that smart. But we are really trying to figure out how to get them the carries that they all deserve, and also keep them in the flow of the game.”

With Conor Hanratty getting the surprise start over Matt Hegarty at left guard, the Irish offensive line put a new twist on what Harry Hiestand’s troops would look like up front in life after Zack Martin and Chris Watt. And while Nick Martin got called for two snap infractions (Kelly put those on Golson, not Martin), it was a strong performance by the running game.

 

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For one Saturday, the kids on defense were all right.

Sure, there were breakdowns. Elijah Shumate and Nicky Baratti might turn red during Sunday’s tape session after seeing their coverage mistakes turn into six points. But the Irish’s rebuilt defense played well on Saturday, holding Rice to 367 total yards, and holding up surprisingly well against the run.

Powered by a ground game that led Conference USA last season, Rice ran 41 times on Saturday, but only managed to gain 141 yards with Romeo Okwara, Andrew Trumbetti, Isaac Rochell playing well while Jarron Jones and Sheldon Day excelled in the trenches.

“I just really thought that we were going to be able to hold up very well, and Joe Schmidt with Jaylon (Smith) were outstanding,” Kelly said. You’ve got those six guys, if they can hold up against the run, we’re going to be in pretty good shape, and I thought that was going to be the case and it ended up being it today.”

 

Perhaps even better, the Irish broke in a ton of young players. One look at the participation chart forced even the most die-hard fans to occasionally check the roster.

Freshman Drue Tranquill played major minutes. So did Daniel Cage up front. Greer Martini played significant snaps. Andrew Trumbetti and Grant Blankenship found their way onto the stat sheet.

Also playing their first minutes were Nyles Morgan and Nick Watkins, while seldom-used veterans like Justin Utupo and Anthony Rabasa saw action.

With little tape to study, Bailiff sounded impressed by the work of VanGorder’s new unit.

“They did a good job of changing their fronts from a four down to three down,” Bailiff siad. “I think it led to some problems just for us identifying what they were doing.

“I thought they did a good job and didn’t make a lot of mistakes today. Tackled well in space. They tackled a lot better than we hoped they would.”

Two breakdowns in the secondary cost the Irish 14 points. Ultimately it didn’t matter on Saturday. But come next weekend when Michigan is in town, the Irish will need to play much cleaner on the back end.

 

 

109 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. lightskin350 - Aug 31, 2014 at 3:19 AM

    Missing 3 starters is a tough pill to swallow for any defense but they played well. I would like to see a better pass rush especially when we play Michigan. Good start to the season but we need to play better!

  2. viktory2013 - Aug 31, 2014 at 3:26 AM

    Now see boys, that’s what an elite quarterback looks like. No turnovers. No back shoulder fades or checkoffs into the “right look” on every single play. Rice had no idea how to stop ND. And no gripes about opening with 10 win Rice, especially after Michigan opened with Appalachian and Stanford with UC Davis (didn’t know they had a football team). It looked a bit like 2012

    • tikitonga - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      It was Rice, bro.

      But agree, nice to watch.

  3. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 31, 2014 at 3:57 AM

    Michigan is gonna roll us and it will be the end of the perfect season. Michigan will go on to win 8 games and the loss to michigan will plague us all year. 6-6 Our Defense is SLOW ! Watch Clemson or Ohio State or even West Virginia. We look like amateurs out there.

    • gtizzo - Aug 31, 2014 at 7:03 AM

      Nice we should watch Ohio State…matter fact I did. I watch Navy gash them for 370 yards on the ground. I did catch Clemson the only got gashed 459 yards, and West Virginia gave 538 yards off offense. Matter of fact if you add in the fact that Texas A&M gave up 509 yards to Rice last season I would say your an idiot.

      • c4evr - Aug 31, 2014 at 7:41 AM

        Cite all the stats you want, but the fact remains that a player that couldn’t crack the starting lineup in the SEC stepped into a starting role at ND and provided the electric spark that had been missing for years on special teams. And if Riggs isn’t fast enough for the SEC, then Nude and Atlas have good points.

      • gtizzo - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:30 AM

        Lets put the idea of “speed” into prospective. Jerry Rice the NFL all time leading receiver (in terms of yards) ran a 4.71 40 time. That was in a time when the National Football League didn’t have all these rules about hitting and contact. Matter of fact is was when the NFL was about football not Nerds Fantasy League it is today (I don’t play fantasy football so don’t even ask). Need more? Alabama was 3 dropped balls away from giving up 500 yards of passing offense. So who will be the first to tell me Alabama has a slow secondary? Any takers? Then explain to me what are they slow compared to?

      • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 31, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        I dont care what this moron says if you watched more than 1 game yesterday you would have seen our 3 star players have 0 speed. Our Defense is incredibly slow…. Rice is not Michigan. Michigan’s Defense looked scrappy to me and they are gonna eat us alive. In addition our offensive line could not give Golson hardly anytime. This game is not even close Meat heads win by 3 TD’s

    • danirish - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:57 AM

      Watch Clemson do what? Get rolled for 45 points? Give up 459 yards including 328 rushing yards?

      Dude, you’re a troll, and not even a good one!

    • irishdog80 - Aug 31, 2014 at 10:57 AM

      Pay up. It looks like ND won by more than the 7 points you predicted. Pay up.

    • getsome99 - Aug 31, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      Oh my god. Now we find out Josh Shaw beats women too? When does it end for the Trojans? And let’s all remember that everyone near that program has claimed Shaw is the most respected player with the strongest character on the team.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Sep 1, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        Yeah I remember hearing the same about Manti Teo until he tried to dupe heisman voters with his ridiculous story. Different strokes for different folks its all the same. I heard Teo is dating a shemale in San Deigo.

    • bearcatboy - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      I think the slow play is attributed to slow play recognition. Top to bottom this is a more athletic d than in 2012.. I mean that is just a fact. I’ll hold back any assumptions, good or bad, till after they play michigan. Riggs started at Florida btw. The football iq of this board is troubling at times

    • bearcatboy - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:54 PM

      Brojanski, navy lead osu most of that game. I’m even an ohio boy who does like seeing the bucks and my fine state represented well (we are one of the best high school sports states after all if not the best) .You heard that right, navy. Wvu does not have a defense consisting of 4 and 5 star recruits, I can promise you that. Dude, bro, Do you watch college football?

    • Wesley Clark - Aug 31, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      I read these boards and normally don’t comment, but this is craziness. Obviously you are a troll. All the teams you mentioned looked very pedestrian (and some downright horrible) on defense Saturday. I don’t know what I should have expected from someone with a half witted screen name from a terrible novel by an author with a crappy, narcissistic world view.

    • papadec - Aug 31, 2014 at 11:50 PM

      You are ohhhhhhhhhh so wrong, johnnie boy – just like you were with your Rice prediction. ND covered the 21 point spread over Rice & they will cover the spread over um. I expect ND to win by 10-14 points.

  4. c4evr - Aug 31, 2014 at 7:45 AM

    Retraction…

    Riggs started all last year and may or may not have started this year. Had my facts wrong. Guess we’ll have to wait for the playoffs to see who’s fastest.

  5. mayesdays - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    -team speed was not the issue on D yesterday communication was
    - there will be growing pains with this secondary and rightfully so with who they lost.
    - any one catch Riggs’ comment about Notre Dame Stadium atmosphere compared to Florida? He is the real deal and Rice wouldn’t throw his way
    - glad to see Farely make a play, in fact he assisted on a sack as well before that.
    -Schmidt tackles well and moves well to the ball
    -tons of playmakers on offense

  6. ekalderf - Aug 31, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    Wow…..surprised by level of angst….that was one of the better home openers under Kelly. Very few penalties, no changing the play and letting clock run to zero, no wasting timeouts on offense, a QB that can throw > 30 yards, four guys on offense that can take it to the house on any play, punt returns that went forward, reserves got to play in the fourth quarter. What did I miss, oh yeah we made a few mistakes on D, which was expected. Even if we had the suspended players the D was a question mark this year.

    Unlike last year opposing D coordinators have their work cut out for them.

    Whie i dont expect them to win every game, this one gave me hope. You couldn’t say that after the opener last year.

    Go Irish!

  7. ndirish32 - Aug 31, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    1. Golson is special and fun to watch.
    2. Anyone who doesn’t think the loss of Russell and Collinsworth had a HUGE impact on the secondary is flat out wrong. One is a two year starter with tons of experience and the other has been a solid contributor who would put some of the young kids at ease with just his presence and experience. He went down THIRTY SIX hours before the game, if you think that doesn’t have an impact on the confidence and comfort level of the young kids in their first or second game you’re nuts.
    3. All three RB’s need to play because they bring positive attributes to the offense. McDaniel is more experienced and will be better at blitz pickups than the other two, who have more big play ability but lack experience.
    4. Too many drops, but everybody drops passes. (Even Jerry Rice from time to time.) And Koyack’s drop WAS his fault, the ball was a foot or so behind him but that ball needed to be caught.
    5. The other thing, I read a lot of comments where people were not realizing that it was the FIRST game, tons of young kids playing, and face it, Rice is on the schedule for a couple of reasons. ND gets a warmup game (I know they won 10, but it’s conference USA) and Rice get some bills paid. In a warmup game do you really expect ND to show the whole playbook when there are games coming up against UM, MSU, etc? There are plenty of wrinkles we haven’t seen yet.
    6. Zaire looked good in his series, it will be interesting to see him pass. On his first play he made a nice read and a great cut but is obviously quick but not fast, lol. He can be very productive in this offense if he stays healthy and works hard.

  8. yaketyyacc - Aug 31, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    keith, you led us with good information all pre-season, and wow, were you right. Golson found out that sometimes what looks like a step back turns out to be a step to maturity. That is his biggest win.
    For Notre Dame, an offense that is dynamite, explosive and disciplined. yes, our defense needs work, and watching Van Gorder, it will definitely get it. For Coach Kelly, the giddiness of knowing he has two quarterbacks of equal ability. Rice was not the typical powder puff that starts a season. Rice is a very good team. That fact magnifies just how good the Irish are.
    In my last post, I said that Notre Dame would have to score 40 points to provehat Notre Dame is ready to face Michigan. The Irish are….

    • tucsonfan - Aug 31, 2014 at 9:56 PM

      I loved the offense, except Kelly’s decision to start Cam, but he performed well later.

      Re Van Gorder, I’m not sure why everyone assumes he’s superman and that the defense will be super, just because he’s aggressive. He still has to prove his defense will perform. I acknowledge that he’s missing 3 starters, the only acceptable excuse for the big plays given up yesterday. If Rice receivers hadn’t dropped about 8 balls, it would have been tighter.

      Of course, Prosise and Brzindza gave up 10 points we should have had.

      This offense is really fun to watch. Love the “chunk” plays!

  9. upthera44 - Aug 31, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    Are there any websites with in-depth game stats, like individual tackles, etc? ESPN mostly shows offensive stats..

    • notredameirish1980 - Aug 31, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      South Bend Tribune.

  10. notredave - Aug 31, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Nice win Irish. Secondary has got to step up. Wish Cody Riggs had come to a South Bend from the beginning. Go Irish, beat Michigan!

    • 1historian - Aug 31, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      Good point but if he had – he would be gone now.

  11. newmexicoirish - Aug 31, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    upther44, I think UND.com might have what your looking for or maybe onefootdown.com? ekalderf, I think your assessment of the game is spoton – and I’ve already watched it twice. Aside from the Blue/Gold game and a short series yesterday, Malik is still something of an unknown quantity. I have to believe he is a huge improvement over TR though. Regardless, it’s imperative we keep Golson’s uniform clean!
    Keith, I’m sure you’re going to do this anyway, but can you find out the nature of Austin’s injury and how long he is expected to be out? We got a lt of football in front of us and we’re going to need himin the secondary.

    • notredameirish1980 - Aug 31, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      Grade 2 MCL strain. Received a platelet treatment this weekend and will be out 2-4 weeks.

    • upthera44 - Aug 31, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Much thanks. Here’s the link I found:

      http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2014-2015/rice.html#GAME.DRV

  12. glowplugv - Aug 31, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Being at the game, getting soaked and seeing that the players never slipped and were able to play football not “slip and slide” certifies that the Field Turf was worth every penny spent on it!

    Offense was what was expected. The defense was impressive in its speed and flying to the ball. That said, I thought our ends got moved out a few too many times, leaving gaps, Gardner is much better runner than the Rice QB. I think there was only one sack (correct me if I am wrong), but I did not see the defense getting to the QB though there was some pressure. Schmidt is a sure tackler, but not sure he can stand up a big back breaking through the line without help. Other than two obvious miscommunications, the pass defense looked OK, BUT better QB and better receivers (several balls could/should have been caught) might made a different story.

    All in all a great start, particularly no major penalties on defense for holding (gosh watching all the practice footage had me worried). Got my tickets for MI and can’t wait to see some payback on the Wolverines. Go Irish!

  13. mtflsmitty - Aug 31, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    (Is Rice FSU? Of course not. We all know that. But very well coached CUSA team. Things get a lot tougher from here. But a more solid start that most of us have come to expect.)

    1. Front-seven looked good. Jones, Day, Rochelle all looked good. Anyone else notice how effective Cage was? Earlier poster was correct, Schmidt does hit like a safety, but he made tackles at least. Let’s hope the front four keep opponents’ guards and tackles from making it to the 2nd level. Jaylon was flawless.
    2. OL is still in flux. Hanraty gets the surprise start over Hegerty? Elmer looked vulnerable. Will be interesting to see how good these guys can be…But need to know who the starting five will be.
    3. Cole Luke looked very good. Enough said.
    4. A military leader is not valued for his marksmanship. His value derives from his ability to read his adversary, respond with counter-strategy, and position troops to execute. Similarly, Collinsworth’s value is not what he does with his own physical assets. Rather, his ability to make the most out of the physical talents of his teammates is what we will miss most. Let’s hope Shumate has a great week in practice.
    5. Despite his amazing hands, Robinson will remain an average receiver until he develops technique and strength to run HIS routes, not the routes DBs want his running.

    Great week. Enjoying it. Feeling optimistic to close out Michigan rivalry with a W.

  14. danirish - Aug 31, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    I have a small confession. I’ve posted many times (many many times) about ND’s penchant for throwing “deep” and receivers having to come back for it – ND seems like it always was throwing short. All I want to see is receivers catching in stride.

    Even though Fuller’s TD was short and he had to come back for it – it was awesome! Why?

    When I watched it over and over again it proves that he is a burner and Golson threw it 60 freaking yards at least.

    Golson was terrific.
    Hanratty to Seymour -> Golson to Fuller!

    GO IRISH!

  15. irishdog80 - Aug 31, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Despite the score, West Virginia is not a very good football team. For perspective, they lost to Kansas last year by more points than they lost to Bama last night. The real truth lies in the differences in QB play and Offensive Line play. Alabama has vastly superior talent to West Virginia, but not at QB or on the offensive line. The missed throws and a stuffed run here and there turn into a lot more three and outs for Bama and an emboldened opponent. I don’t care how many 4 and 5 star athletes you can trot out there, without a QB that can make plays you can not be a truly elite team. At USC, Barkley looked ordinary with a bad offensive line. A.J. was solid, but not great with a depleted line. The list goes on and on.

    ND’s record has suffered whenever we lack talent at QB and on the offensive and defensive lines. Put a solid QB behind a big and athletic line and you are always putting pressure on the other team. With Everett Golson at the helm, great days are ahead for ND.

    Go Irish! Beat Wolverines!

  16. domerboyirish - Aug 31, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    I’m sorry to join the party so late!

    A few additional observations that I have not seen posted:
    - I’d probably have to watch the game again but I don’t recall ever hearing Max Redfield’s name mentioned. I’m not sure if that is good or bad.

    - We scored 48 points and we did it with a very bland offense. Of course we didn’t see the entire playbook! I don’t recall seeing a single misdirection play the entire game. We didn’t attempt a jet sweep or end around. Not even a fake. We didn’t throw a screen pass or a swing pass out of the backfield. I don’t even think we ran a counter or draw play. WE DIDN’T HAVE TO! I’d venture to say that Michigan as very little game film to look at. This speaks of good coaching and reminds me of the full season planning Lou Holtz used to employ. I expect some big plays next week when those plays are added to the game plan. Michigan is in for a surprise.

    -John G, you continue to show us all how little you know about college football. You are on a blog where there are many knowledgeable people that actually know the sport. Nearly every comment you’ve been posting can be very easily debunked and branded as genuine stupidity. I just hope you have the balls to stick around and keep commenting, and admit that you are wrong, if we have a great season. I doubt that will happen…

    • tucsonfan - Aug 31, 2014 at 10:05 PM

      Redfield had 1 tackle and 2 assists–low for a safety. I think the jury should still be out on Max.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Sep 1, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      Please try and debunk the SEC. You can’t and I Was correct stating the only player on our team that is NFL quality is Cody Riggs. The kid has 0 Fear and that is how your win big football games. You play like you own the other team not play like a bunch of sissies like ND in the NC game.

      • Wesley Clark - Sep 2, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        If you honestly think that Cody Riggs is the only player on Notre Dame that is NFL quality, well you know less about football than just about anyone. What a ludicrous statement. Please take your lack of knowledge and go somewhere else.

  17. knuterocknesghost - Aug 31, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    @ Mayesdays: I whole heartedly agree.

    It’s hard to see the evidence some saw in the Rice game that ND’s defensive backfield is way too slow to match teams contending for a BCS bowl berth or the playoffs, and that this is the Achilles’ heel of ND’s defense damning Irish hopes this season.

    As you say Mayesdays, mental mistakes producing blown assignments always will make the defender running down the receiver who’s wide open look slow. That’s what I got out of it.

    ND has enough talent in the defensive backfield.

    Exhibit A: ND Cornerback Cody Riggs: Four star recruit. 40 time: 4.43. Per Rivals on his recruitment: his speed is rated “as good as it gets”, which is a step higher than Rivals ranking his speed as “blue chip”. Experience could help? Starter for Florida.

    Exhibit B: ND Cornerback Cole Luke: Four star recruit. 40 time 4.54. Key trait per ESPN “Closing burst”. Per Rivals: “The Hamilton defensive back is more prone to successfully jam receivers at the line of scrimmage than he was a junior, but his real strength is his blanket-like coverage.” Offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, California, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Purdue, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington. Relatively new to starting role.

    Exhibit C: ND safety Max Redfield: Who doesn’t know about Redfield? Five star recruit. A “blue chip” for sure. Recruited by the whole world.

    Exhibit D: ND safety Mattias Farley. Three star recruit with 4.5 time in the 40 per Rivals. Yeah. He had a pretty crappy game against Rice, didn’t he?

    Exhibit E: ND safety Elijah Shumate. Four star recruit position ranking 8th in his class by Rivals. Forty time 4.52 per Rivals. Offers included Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and UCLA.

    Having Keivare Russell back would be very nice, but ND isn’t exactly doomed by a cramped legged secondary.

    • tikitonga - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Cole Luke, btw, didn’t play as well as you indicate. Neither did Shumate. Both blew assignments. Farley had some nice plays (finally), but he too contribute to the first TD on blown coverage. And Baratti just got beat 1-1 in embarrassing fashion. I love Redfield, but his game day maturity is slowing himself down. He hesitates. Watch closely. Shumate looks every bit the second stringer

      The D is in fact the achilles heel for ND. However, really excited about Riggs, Smith and Day. And I can’t wait for Redfield to be the player we all know he has inside him.

      • tucsonfan - Aug 31, 2014 at 10:09 PM

        I agree with your assessment Tonga–Redfield is a work in progress and not in the same league with freshmen safeties I saw playing at LSU or FSU yesterday. 5 stars don’t always pan out. I hope he does, but at this point I think he’s just average.

  18. tikitonga - Aug 31, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Although BVG’s defense is supposed to be designed as “attack” what was more on display was a “bend don’t break” defense. And this was against Rice of Conference USA. ND will face several extremely mobile, smart QBs this season (starting with UM’s Gardner next week) that will improvise on the run. Improvising QBs with strong arms wreak havoc on young defenses, and that’s what scares me about ND’s D. Rice was able to execute on the open field drag patterns all day long with no resistance. And we all witnessed Barrati get beat 1-1 for the last TD. And while Farley played well overall, he did contribute to the blown assignment for the first Rice TD. The secondary looked like a confused trio on several series, looking lost to the point of being comical. They must get this corrected ASAP or else Gardner will carve them up (again). Finally, the front 7 did an OK job but did not place enough pressure on the QB. Next week they must keep contain on the edge while still applying pressure in the pocket. Jarron Jones is big, but slow. And many of the Freshman played like Freshman. I get that ND has depth issues on defense, but is it really necessary to play them so much? I suppose against Rice it’s allowable, but against UM I don’t think the on the job training approach is advisable.

    • tikitonga - Aug 31, 2014 at 1:55 PM

      BTW, my comments about the secondary is directed at the Farley-Shumate rotation. I thought Riggs played well on D and exceptionally well on special teams.

    • knuterocknesghost - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      “And while Farley played well overall, he did contribute to the blown assignment for the first Rice TD.”

      No….. that’s on Shumate.

      • knuterocknesghost - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        Correction…. Note sure who was the safety on the play you are referring to, but on one blown coverage play I remember Farley switched off to cover the receivers underneath closer to the line of scrimmage, and the safety was late come across to cover the deep route.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      The team is a mess. Brian K ranked his team a 7 from a 1 to 10. In reality its about a 5.5. Michigan beats us down next week in South Bend in front of a ton of recruits. I am just grateful college game day is in Oregon.

      • irishdog80 - Aug 31, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        Pay up. You said that ND wouldn’t beat Rice by more than 7 points. Don’t be a welcher. Pay up or…

      • irishdog80 - Aug 31, 2014 at 4:13 PM

        Here’s JG’s exact quote:

        “I bet any of you that we beat Rice by less than 7 points.. ”

        Pay up or…

        We all know you don’t know what you are talking about. Please explain why a West Virginia team that lost to Kansas by 12 points last year…one of the worst teams in college football… hung with Bama to the end.

      • don74 - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:49 PM

        Throughout the preseason Kelly has been saying this is a year where the O has to score a lot of points….meaning the D is going to give up points. Never has it been said the D has to pitch shut outs for this team to win. Like FSU winning 38-35 (I think that was the final) expect to see those scores this year.

        The goal is to win. Style points don’t count.

        During the 2012 season this board was filled with posts complaining about winning 17-10. That season Kelly said the D had to hold scoring down.

        He knows what he has and he knows how to play the game to win.

        You guys are right, the D may be lacking and is a work in progress. The key is to limit the damage and get the ball for the O so they can score.

  19. coachtemp - Aug 31, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    I’m of the opinion that the coaching staff held back with their defensive package. While I expected to see rolled up man coverage (as was reported all off season) and blitz packages, there was little to witness. Which leads me to believe that the staff was disguising that for the Michigan game. The loss of KV certainly was big in addition to losing Collingsworth, I believe the defense did a very respectable job!

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      Would you Shut Up… The training wheels came off in the Rice Game. What you saw is what you get there is no 70 percent defense run in Rice. You fools said the same thing about Temple last year. This team is just not very good.

      • domerboyirish - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Would you shut up. That’s funny coming from you. You know SO little…

    • bearcatboy - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:43 PM

      I remember the opening game in the 2012 season where navy had relative success throwing the ball and everybody and myself thought this meant we would get lit up by Landry jones and Barkley etc but we all know how that worked out. First game, youngest starting 22 in football (according to Phil Steele), new defense, like I said before I’ll hold back predictions but there is certainly a high ceiling here.

      • viktory2013 - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:04 PM

        Exactly. All I heard was how lucky we were to beat Stanford, Pitt, etc. , but we always seemed to win. That’s what good teams do. It was just Rice…yes but this was not Golson’s first game ever. He did the same against Oklahoma, Miami and everyone else in ’12. Keep in mind FSU, Alabama, LSU and Ohio St. were hardly overwhelming Saturday.

  20. getsome99 - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    We’ll get the secondary issues ironed out this week in practice. Remember, the AC injury happened Thursday so we only had one day to work on plan B after spending the past 3 weeks preparing for plan A. None of the DB’s individually played poorly. There were a couple plays with blown assignments but that was more due to a breakdown in communication. A full week of practice after the first game will fix this.

    The key is a lot of young players got to see meaningful action. We need them to grow up quick and that will only help. Who noticed the appreciation BVG showed Devin Butler after that strip? Expect to see more of that this season.

  21. irishlad19 - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Debating with Johngalt is problematic, remember the old aphorism that arguing with a fool can be dangerous since it drags you down to his level and makes it difficult to tell who is who?

  22. mayesdays - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Anyone else think Will Fuller bulked up in the off season? The kid can play.

  23. irishlad19 - Aug 31, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    Tucsonfan, you are one of the posters on these ND threads who make a lot do sense to me.
    Agree, we will see in the weeks ahead what we have–a contender or an also-ran.

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