Notre Dame v Arizona State

Playoffs or not, Irish get back to work


Notre Dame’s playoff hopes are dead. But the Irish are not.

Head coach Brian Kelly met with the media on Tuesday for his weekly press conference, reminding everybody that there are still three very important games on the schedule.

“Look, we haven’t talked about playoffs since day one,” Kelly said Tuesday. “So there is no change from that standpoint. There is not one day where I went in front of them during the year and we said, ‘All right, need to keep winning if you want to go to the playoffs.'”

While fans of the Irish caught in the title wave of chatter about inclusion into college football’s first Final Four, the reality is quite a bit simpler for Kelly’s team. And while last weekend’s loss still stings, it’s on to Northwestern.

“The focus for us is about playing better football,” Kelly said. “You know we’re disappointed in the way we played last week, now we got an opportunity to do something about that, and we got a chance to do something at home against Northwestern.”


After another botched field goal attempt, Kelly acknowledged that he’ll be making a change at holder. Backup quarterback Malik Zaire will take over for Hunter Smith, hoping to solidify a situation that’s been shaky since the Irish’s narrow victory over Stanford.

“Malik will take over that responsibility. He will be our starting holder,” Kelly said. “We’ve had three drops. Three’s too many. Can’t take a fourth, so we’re going to make a switch at that position.”

Zaire’s move to holder isn’t one that Kelly took lightly. And while he stuck with Smith, a walk-on who works exclusively with long-snapper Scott Daly in practice, Zaire will still spend the majority of his time with the quarterbacks during practice before getting reps as holder during special teams segments.


For as miserable as Northwestern’s offense has played this year, the Wildcats defense has done a very good job. With Everett Golson and the Irish passing attack going up against a surprisingly stout secondary, Kelly said Nortwehstern’s success in holding opponents down in the passing game (the Wildcats are giving up just 210 yards passing per game) reminded him of the Irish defense under Bob Diaco.

“They’re a lot like we were defensively, where they don’t give up the big play,” Kelly said. “They are okay with you taking short hitches and short stuff. They’re okay with you screwing it up way before they do…

“They keep the ball in front, they stay over the top, and do a very good job of corralling things and rallying to the football. Very similar scheme, what we ran in the last couple of years and not giving up the big play defensively and banking on the fact that you won’t be patient enough.”

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

Lloyd Carrington, Everett Golson

Give Brian Kelly credit. He found an appropriate nickname for the egg the Irish laid Saturday afternoon, dubbing it, “The Debacle in the Desert” during his Sunday post-mortem teleconference. That game shook the core of the Irish, with Everett Golson’s five-turnover afternoon ending Notre Dame’s playoff chances in a first half from hell.

With Northwestern heading to South Bend on Saturday, the final three games of the season will test the mettle of Kelly’s young football team. With their playoff hopes destroyed, the goal is altered, but a ten-win regular season is still a tremendous achievement — it would be only the third in the past dozen years.

Let’s dig in to this week’s good, bad, and ugly before closing the books on the Sun Devils.



The Wide Receivers. Outside of one really bad, back-breaking drop by Corey Robinson, it was a nice afternoon by Notre Dame’s skill players.

The Irish receivers had explosive afternoons, with Will Fuller leading the way and slot receivers C.J. Prosise and Amir Carlisle doing their jobs as well. Facing aggressive man coverage for a lot of the afternoon, the Irish made the Sun Devils pay, racking up 446 receiving yards, most coming in the second half.


The Rally. It’s a stretch to give a team credit for correcting their already fatal mistakes, but the Irish made this game pretty interesting down the stretch. While the final score won’t reflect it, Notre Dame had ASU on the ropes, needing to get one defensive stop but coming up short.

Of course, falling behind 34-3 seems all but impossible against this football team. But fumbles, interceptions and deep balls tell the quick story, until the Irish regrouped at half time and made a game of it.

Notre Dame’s second half was the type of football Kelly expected from his team, with the Irish outgaining Arizona State 314-164 in the second half. The Sun Devils also continued to play aggressive in coverage and move at tempo on offense, giving the Irish an unlikely chance to be in the game with six minutes remaining, a miracle considering Notre Dame flushed 10 more points down the drain in the second half with a goal line interception and a botched field goal attempt.


C.J. Prosise & Amir Carlisle. After struggling with consistency earlier this season, Prosise has really rounded into form. His ability to turn a quick screen into a big play helped turn the momentum around for the Irish. He broke another big play in the second half that went for 59 yards and set the Irish up for a score.

Prosise seems to have found his home at slot receiver, a capable duo with Amir Carlisle, who is back to full speed after a knee injury against Purdue. Carlisle looked great as well, breaking a great catch and run on his own screen pass, not to mention the touchdown on broken coverage that pulled the Irish within three points.


The Second Half Defense* (*Until the six-minute mark)

The Irish came out for the second half with the right defensive adjustments. The understaffed group got after the Sun Devils, forcing punts when needed and allowing the Irish offense to slowly make their way back into the ball game. They even forced a critical turnover.

Jumping between a three and four-man front, Notre Dame got some solid play from a group of unsung players, with Andrew Trumbetti, Justin Utupo and Grant Blankenship all taking key snaps up front. But after making significant progress, Mike Norvell’s ASU offense took over with the ball and a three-point lead and marched down the field for a decisive score to extend their lead to 10-points.

(The rest of this belongs in the bad column.)


Matthias Farley. At this time last year, Farley was getting kicked down the alley, playing his way out of the starting lineup and out of the two deep as well. We thought that his position switch to cornerback — the deepest position (at the time) on the roster –this spring was the result, not an actual scheme-tweak to help the senior find a better home.

Right now, Farley is playing some really impressive football. Given a tough assignment at nickel back, Farley had a critical interception when the Irish were rallying, and also made two tackles for loss, including one sack. While his limitations sometime expose themselves, he’ll make more good plays than bad, and he certainly did that on Saturday.



Everett Golson’s ball security. At this point, it feels like beating a dead horse. But Golson’s struggles holding onto the football are damaging the very foundation of Notre Dame’s offense. Golson fumbled on the Irish’s first two possessions. He luckily recovered the first, and was not so lucky on the second.

(One play later, on a nifty pick play, the Sun Devils had their first touchdown.)

This isn’t a new problem. From the moment Golson stepped on campus, Kelly and the offensive staff took to breaking the quarterback of some very bad habits. While we’ve seen improvements in other parts of Golson’s game, the more trust this staff puts in Golson to clean up these self-inflicted mistakes, the more difficult it becomes to put up with the crushing mistakes.

After the game, Kelly wasn’t willing to get into specifics, but pointed to the obvious.

“It’s one of the deals where you take one step forward and two steps back, and then he comes back in the second half and he does some really good things,” Kelly said. “He’s got to strive for consistency.  If he plays clean in the first half, who knows where we’d be right now.”

(You’d be 8-1, coach.)


The Offensive Line Play. What a frustrating performance by the five men in charge of taking care of the quarterback. Arizona State blitzed the Irish offense into submission in the first half, giving up five sacks in the game’s first 22 minutes.

We can talk about the batted passes, both turning into touchdowns for Arizona State. We can talk about the missed assignments, inconsistencies that had Kelly scratching his head after practicing all week on the blitz schemes.

At this point, the progress the Irish showed up front the past few weeks has been flushed down the toilet. While Stanley seems to be at home playing left tackle, you could argue that the rest of the offensive line looks out of sorts. After struggling at tackle, Steve Elmer is making an argument that he’s not a right guard, either. Christian Lombard, whose “steady” play is why he’s starting instead of sophomore Mike McGlinchey, was far from solid on Saturday, whiffing on more than one occassion.

Kelly and Harry Hiestand settled on a starting five late in camp, eventually shifting things around after a few weeks. While most of us categorized it as a champagne problem because of an enviable depth chart, it’s turned out to be the fatal flaw of this group. While you’ve got to give Kelly credit for shifting early in the season, this unit still makes too many mental mistakes and gets beaten at the point of attack as well.

While there are still three important data points (and a bowl game) available for evaluation, next spring should be an open competition, as the riches of the past few recruiting classes deserve a chance to compete before everything spoils.


Quick Hits:

* For as many snaps as Ben Koyack has played this year, there were some pretty bad ones on display Saturday. Particularly in his protection of Golson. The senior tight end caught an ear full for inexplicably missing the block off the backside of Golson’s third interception, with the quarterback hit as he threw. He also plain whiffed on a few assignments that were head-scratchers, and his effort seemed to lack when it was vitally needed.

For a player expected to be one of Notre Dame’s most complete, Koyack laid an egg on Saturday.

* Elijah Shumate‘s pass interference penalty late in the second quarter could’ve been a big interception if Shumate would’ve showed the confidence to look for the football. That’s what Matthias Farley did after Taylor Kelly lofted a throw his way, and it became a game-changing interception. Shumate instead ran through a receiver.

* The Irish struggled defensively when Arizona State shifted late and moved at tempo. That’s part of the pain that comes with playing Nyles Morgan at middle linebacker, where the freshman was doing his best to read and react, but too often needed to think.

* Oh boy was Golson’s interception on the first drive of the third quarter a bad one. It would’ve been the perfect quick strike coming out of halftime. And to think it would’ve been a touchdown if Golson’s throw to Amir Carlisle on the post route wouldn’t have forced Carlisle to stumble just shy of the end zone.

* The short-yardage ground game left a lot to be desired. The Irish needed to use a bunch of clock to get running touchdowns, forced to go to fourth down to score on Cam McDaniel’s first plunge and third on his second score. Getting the touchdowns were key. But it took a lot of time.

* At this point, I don’t let Hunter Smith onto the field without gloves on. Or I change holders. For two guys (Scott Daly and Smith) who live together and eat and sleep the center exchange, there are just too many mistakes there, with the pressure of the moment likely crumbling the confidence of both players.

* Max Redfield made 10 tackles Saturday afternoon. But the one he missed on Arizona State’s critical scoring drive in the fourth quarter was rightfully criticized by Chris Spielman on the broadcast. With D.J. Foster tight-roping up the ASU sideline, Redfield had a chance to push him out of bounds shy of the first down. Instead, he went for what looked like a kill shot and ended up whiffing entirely.

That’s a brutal miss for the young safety and hopefully one he learns from.

* For as great as Corey Robinson‘s hands have been this year, the gift-wrapped interception he gave to Lloyd Carrington was a shocker.

* Notre Dame’s sudden change defense. I asked Kelly after the game what the difference was between the usually excellent sudden change defense the Irish played under Bob Diaco and the struggles the team is having now. He wanted no part of it.

In the moment, it’s a difficult question to answer. But when the Irish look back at this season and some of the wonderful progress they made with some really young players, they’ll need to spend some time focusing on their play right after turnovers. Brian VanGorder’s unit hasn’t done well when they absolutely need to, both in the red zone and coming off turnovers.



Inexplicable Mistakes. It’s difficult to get a grasp on what just happened on Saturday. The Irish went to Arizona State and really just short-circuited, with critical mistakes dooming Notre Dame and ending their hopes at a playoff bid. After putting together a nice, balanced, extended drive on their first possession, things fell apart. Maybe that’s too kind. Things shattered.

How this football team rebounds this weekend will be interesting. If Kelly has shown anything during his five seasons in South Bend, it’s that his team does not quit. So while the playoff chase is over, there’s plenty of work to do.

For the offense, it means that you can’t exchange five great plays for one terrible one. That’s essentially what the Irish did on Saturday, and no matter how prolifically they moved the ball in the second half, if you’re giving away the football it’s not going to matter.

With three games left, there is still plenty of story to write. But the Debacle in the Desert will be a loss hard to forget.



Five things we learned: Arizona State 55, Notre Dame 31

Lloyd Carrington, Everett Golson

While countless variables exist on every single snap in football, there are still a few universal truths that govern the game. Notre Dame found that out the hard way, as five turnovers and an inability to protect the quarterback flushed the Irish’s College Football Playoff chances down the toilet.

In a game that ranked among the biggest of recent memory in Sun Devil Stadium, the sellout home crowd was surprisingly late to arrive. But Todd Graham’s team wasn’t. So while a few thousand Sun Devil fans may have missed Everett Golson and the Irish offense gift-wrap 21 first half points, the head start was enough for Arizona State to get a 55-31 victory that drop the Irish to 7-2 on the season.

“If you really look at it closely, we turned the ball over five times,” head coach Brian Kelly said after the game, the picture of a frustrated coach revealing so much more than the simple statement probably intended.

But even after battling back to within three points with just over six minutes to play, Notre Dame couldn’t get out of its own way, as defensive breakdowns and another back-breaking turnover ending the Irish’s bid for an eighth win.

Let’s look at the five things we learned.


Everett Golson’s turnovers doomed the Irish before they had a chance. 

Any hope that Everett Golson had put this recent rash of turnovers behind him has been eliminated. On Saturday, Notre Dame’s quarterback put his team in a hole they couldn’t escape. Between ball security scares and ill-advised passes, Golson’s turnovers made winning next to impossible.

The Irish quarterback was far from terrible, throwing for a career-best 446 yards as the Irish were forced to abandon the run and play catchup. But two fumbles early — one lost deep in Irish territory, and four interceptions — two returned for touchdowns — provided the Sun Devils with 28 points.

Golson’s turnover binge has gotten alarming. His 17 giveaways in five games have taken the shine away from the emerging star of the Irish offense. However you decide to assign blame for batted balls and dropped passes, Golson is giving away the football at an unsustainable level for a team that relies on their quarterback to win.

“He’s gotta strive for consistency. If he plays clean in the first half, who knows where we’re at.” Kelly said.

Golson was under pressure all game, with Todd Graham attacking the quarterback with blitzes from every direction. While the offensive line did Golson no favors, he didn’t help the cause either, failing to make the right decision when it was time to cut bait and take zero on a play.

“We can’t expect to win football games against good teams and turn the ball over five times,” Kelly reiterated.

While Golson’s 17-3 record as a starter is still an accurate portrayal of a quarterback that does more right than wrong, every back-breaking mistake takes you back to the 2013 season, where Golson likely would’ve made these mistakes and learned from them. So while practicing in San Diego with quarterback coach George Whitfield helped erase any talent erosion, these are still the mistakes of a quarterback that’s learning as he goes.

Those lumps cost the Irish the game this weekend, providing a painful lesson that Golson hopefully learns from.


Notre Dame’s offensive line was blown away by Arizona State’s blitz scheme

It was far from a banner day for the guys protecting Golson up front. After handling Florida State’s scheme and being able to play in a hostile environment, the Irish front five took a big step backwards, giving up a season-high seven sacks to Arizona State’s relentless pass rush.

After practicing all week for a healthy diet of blitzes from every direction, the offensive line still suffered too many breakdowns.

“It was a lack of execution. We knew they were going to be blitzing,” guard Nick Martin said after the game. “We were expecting blitz on every play. We’ve got to protect No. 5. When we do, he makes plays.”

That lack of protection blew up scoring opportunities in the first half, forcing an Irish field goal attempt after the Irish marched down the field against the Sun Devils on the game’s first drive. The line also didn’t get hands on Arizona State’s lanky defensive ends, with offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and Christian Lombard failing to get their men as defensive ends Demetrius Cherry and Marcus Hardison, who turned deflections into interceptions.

After moving four starters to different spots on the front line after the Purdue victory, the Irish offensive line is still an inconsistent group that struggles dealing with speed and athleticism. That showed itself on Saturday afternoon, and ultimately contributed to the offense’s self-inflicted wounds.


The decimated Irish defense played well enough for Notre Dame to win.

Usually when the opponent puts up 55 points, it’s a bad day for the defense. But Notre Dame’s injury-depleted defense played well enough to win according to their head coach. While the Sun Devils managed 188 yards on the ground, the Irish defense stiffened in the second half after getting ambushed by their offensive brethren.

“I think we played well enough defensively,” Kelly said. “We played well enough defensively for us to win, but we shot ourselves in the foot offensively.  We battled back to get it to 34-31 with a chance to win the game, but we couldn’t come up with a big stop.”

The first start of Nyles Morgan at middle linebacker wasn’t the only key injury replacement that needed to step in and contribute. Cornerback Cody Riggs sat out after suffering a stress reaction in his foot, pushing Devin Butler into the starting lineup as well, a nightmare scenario against All-American candidate Jaelen Strong.

Strong made a highlight reel catch for the Sun Devils’ first touchdown. But he was held in check the rest of the way, ending the game with a fairly pedestrian five catches for 58 yards. While D.J. Foster’s 120 yards on the ground and Taylor Kelly’s excellence in the zone read game kept the chains moving, the young and injured Irish defense did their jobs.

“This game was not set up for us to rely on our defense to come up with a big stop. This game was set up for our offense to win the game,” Kelly said. “We put our defense in such a bad situation today and battled back.”


All the turnovers overshadowed an explosive day by Notre Dame’s wide receivers. 

Arizona State cleaned up their defense over the past month, eliminating the big plays that plagued them against UCLA and USC. But Notre Dame’s receivers were able to beat the Sun Devils secondary for big plays all afternoon, a fact that’ll be forgotten thanks to the five critical mistakes the offense made.

Will Fuller responded to Kelly’s challenge, out-playing Strong and leading the Irish with six catches for 95 yards, scoring his tenth touchdown of the season. The Irish had seven receivers make a big-chunk play of 23 yards or longer, with Amir Carlisle, C.J. Prosise and Chris Brown all averaging over 30 yards a catch.

Golson’s second-half passing numbers were prolific, completing 19 of 34 throws for 352 yards, rallying Notre Dame back after facing a 34-3 deficit until the final seconds of the half. But it wasn’t enough.

“Great resolve, great character. The kids are as good a group of kids that I’ve coached,” Kelly said. “But if you’re sloppy, this isn’t rec ball.  There aren’t pats on the back for being great competitors.  We’re doing this to win. We didn’t win the game, and it’s because of the obvious circumstances in the game, five turnovers.”


Even Brian Kelly can’t coach youthful mistakes out of a football team. 

For perhaps the first time in his tenure in South Bend, Brian Kelly got openly agitated in his postgame comments. When asked why his team started the game flat — a valid observation considering the 34-3 hole they found themselves in — Kelly pushed back, challenging the assertion.

“Did you watch the first drive? How is that flat? We turned the ball over three times. How is that flat?” Kelly asked. “That’s sloppy football. We had a 13-play drive that we would’ve liked to score on. We balanced it, we ran it, we threw it, we moved it all the way down the field. Chopped time off the clock. That’s not flat.

“You need to understand the difference between being flat as a time and not executing. We didn’t execute. We turned the ball over the next three out of four times, that’s the problem.”

While the term flat likely gnaws at a coach who acutely observes his young team, critical mistakes doomed the Irish. Call them flat, call them sloppy, call them whatever. They’re fatal flaws that often derail a young team that’s still learning as it goes, a difficult way to win in November.

That Saturday’s undoing was Everett Golson likely eats into Kelly even more, a quarterback far too good to make the type of mistakes that have sullied an otherwise spectacular season. Golson’s five turnovers are the reason the Irish won’t be in the playoff conversation any longer. And those mistakes will be a dartboard for opposing defensive coordinators taking dead aim at the Irish in the coming weeks.

In the Valley of the Sun, Notre Dame’s playoff hopes disintegrated. That it happened like it did — a callback to struggles under Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees — likely has Kelly more frustrated than anything else.



Live chat — Notre Dame vs. Arizona State

Michigan v Notre Dame


ASU Mailbag: Here comes the sun

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Rutgers v Notre Dame

With an early flight to Phoenix and a kickoff at a little after 1 p.m. local time, let’s hammer out a Friday evening mailbag. Some interesting questions that I hope delivered some satisfactory answers.

Here goes:

@drewbrennan77: Looking at ASU, in your opinion, who is their best sports alum: Jake the Snake Plummer, Phil Mickelson or Pat Tilman?

I think it’s Pat Tillman… and then everybody else. (He might be my favorite athlete of all time.) You should probably look at the baseball program for other notable alums, too.


danirish: Look into the crystal ball – Nyles Morgan – great game or goat? Seems like everyone is getting to play on defense – when do we see Jon Bon Jovi’s son play?

I’m excited to see Morgan play. Not sure how he’ll do, but I don’t think he’ll be a goat. He’ll have some struggles, but he’s an athletic, playmaking kid who won’t be swallowed by the moment. And he’s going to make one or two “wow” plays.

As for Bongiovi. Don’t hold your breath. I believe he suffered a knee injury and was lost for the season, though he wasn’t likely to see the field healthy or not.


subalum: If you’re BK how do you attack ASU? Ground and pound with the new found running game trying to keep the defense off of the field? Or go for the big plays like UCLA did and score quickly?

I think controlling the tempo of the game will be key, especially with the Irish needing to protect their defense. I’d do my best to establish a running game, but also try and take some shots down the field. Golson will need to be sharp, but it’ll be interesting if the Sun Devils decide to blitz Golson or force to keep him in the pocket.

Some outside opinions still seem to think the best game plan is forcing Golson to stay in the pocket and beat you with his arm. He can do that without a problem, just ask Michigan. I think putting pressure on him is your best bet and to try and confuse him.

(Could you fault Kelly for trying to take elements of last year’s game plan? Tommy Rees led the Irish in a shootout win.)


padomer: In trying to gauge the talent on this ND team, i was wondering if you could compile an “All-Pro” or “All-Star” team with us and every other team on our schedule as a player pool.

I’m punting this to being an offseason project. Just too tough of a question without having a few hours to dig into it. Try me in February with this.


dudeacow: Are Nelson, Brent, Watkins, and Holmes using a redshirt season, or have they played enough to have used a season of eligibility?

Quenton Nelson is redshirting. Nick Watkins isn’t. I’d guess Brent and Holmes will save a year of eligibility, not seeing the field though traveling for much of the second-half of the season.


atlantairish84: Keith, does a win over a top-10 team move Notre Dame ahead of teams like MSU and TCU that don’t have as good of wins?

Maybe Michigan State, though if they beat Ohio State convincingly, that does quite a bit for them, too. As for TCU, it depends on how you view their schedule. A big win over Oklahoma, a tough loss to Baylor. But this weekend against Kansas State will likely propel one of those Big 12 teams to their highest ranking of the year and send the other one tumbling down boards.

Trying to figure this stuff out will drive you mad. ND just can’t get caught up in watching the weekly rankings. There are just too many tough games left to play.


1notredaefan: I have been under the impression when watching some CFB teams play this year that there has been a form of communication device in the helmet (speaker). Have you heard anything about this? Was Schmidt that vastly superior to listening/looking for hand signals?

There is no communication system in helmets at the college level. But if that was a subtle setup for taking a dig/cracking a joke about Schmidt or his abilities to relay plays, I think you might be oversimplifying things a bit.

Schmidt’s skill isn’t being a wind talker or understanding VanGorder’s code. It’s being able to process every element of the defense and make sure not just that he’s in position, but the other linebackers and the defensive linemen in front of him are, too.


indyirish91: It appears to me that the playoff committee is going to adjust their weekly rankings to affect each week’s match ups. For instance, moving ASU to #9 this week when they’ll face the #10 Irish. Do you agree or disagree? It seems they can manipulate the importance of each matchup down the stretch.

The weekly announcement is a made-for-TV spectacle that I can’t take seriously. I’m not sure what the point is, other than to fuel a week of debate and make Jeff Long look silly.

I’m convinced that at the end of this process, all the factors will be taken into consideration and the committee will get it as close to right as possible. Until then? The yoyo’ing feels more than a little contrived.


idratherbeinsouthbend: ASU gets a number of on field contributions from JUCO transfers. I know Notre Dame doesn’t allow JUCO transfers, but does anybody know WHY? Do they allow JUCO transfers for NON-Football players or Non-athletes? If a JUCO player has the chops to get admitted to Notre Dame, why is it not allowed?

I don’t think the university has a hard-and-firm “No Juco rule” like you’re stating, but I do think that it’s tremendously difficult to transfer in to Notre Dame, especially if you’ve begun your college career at a junior/community college. The core curriculum at a two-year college just doesn’t often fit with where transfer athletes need to be when trying to fit into the process at Notre Dame, and that’s likely the biggest reason Notre Dame doesn’t attract them. (Nor does the football program need to…)

ASU isn’t the only school to get contributions from junior college athletes. Bill Snyder built K-State around finding talent from the JuCo level. Charlie Weis tried to at Kansas and failed miserably.There are risks and rewards to that style of recruiting. So if a rare junior college player has a way to make it work academically at Notre Dame, I’m not sure why he wouldn’t get that shot.


yaketyyacc:Keith, don’t you think the playoffs are happening now? with the matchups this weekend alone, several teams will be eliminated or advanced. do you think pollsters have finally matured by adding the “jump over” to determine who ranks what? Do you think there are too many factors used by the committee to determine rank, thus complicating an already murky method of assessment?

The next few weeks will serve as eliminate games. Alabama loses to LSU? Seeya. K-State and TCU? Only one survives. Same with this game.

For as worried as we all get about being left out, factor in the Egg Bowl, the Iron Bowl, and not to mention the conference championship games, and this will all sort itself out.


4horsemenrideagain: Any idea about whether Pat Eilers is still providing consulting services to the secondary, or what his role has consisted of since he took it on? How much credit for the secondary’s somewhat surprising performance is attributed to Eilers?

Eilers is still working with the team as Kyle McCarthy battles cancer. I think Eilers is likely doing a very good job, but you might be a little ahead of yourself for giving the former ND and NFL player, and current private equity banker now on sabbatical, any of the main credit. From what I’m told, Eilers has been a great guy on the administrative end, working in a support capacity more than coaching technique on the field.

That’s not to take away from anything he’s doing. What a fantastic opportunity for Eilers to return to the school he loves and I’m sure Brian Kelly is grateful to have his experience inside the coaches room.

ylilbnosredna: Keith, % wise, how healthy is Jarron Jones (to your knowledge)?

?% At this time of year, nobody is 100% healthy. But Jones will find a second wind and close this season out strong.


ndcanuck: If the Irish lose Saturday following yet another Navy “hangover” (a costly win that gains nothing with the committee) will ND start to consider moving away from the long time rivalry game?

This game isn’t going anywhere.