by Mike Coffey
At some point, Mike Royko never saying, “Some things you wonder, some things you think, and some things you just know,” is going to turn into a “Craig James killed five hookers” thing.
At the beginning of the season, I told multiple people “If you bet the Irish this season, bet the under.” I hereby retract that statement. While neither defensive unit gave their fans much to be proud of tonight, if Bob Diaco was saving space on his mantle for another Broyles award this year, he’d best find another tchotchke to fill the void because I remain puzzled what he spent this week doing. It is so frustrating to watch a defense that won so many games for ND last season completely come apart as it has. Eminem looked more in control of his environment today than our defense did.
Four seasons in, and we still apparently have not learned when our offense gets out of balance, bad things happen. For example, from the time ND tied the game until the end of the first half, they ran 15 offensive plays. Only two were running plays. That’s not balance, that’s putting pressure on a quarterback who has shown a propensity to throw interceptions the more pass attempts you give him. The first drive in the second half showed the requisite balance, and it was successful to the tune of 90 yards and a touchdown. When we go pass-happy, particularly in the red zone, we bog down or turn it over.
The PI call against Jackson could have gone either way, but to blame the loss on it truly is foolish. 30 points should be enough to win at Michigan. The fact that it wasn’t should have us all very very concerned.
Good news for a freshman is you don’t make any mistakes that cost your team. Two games in, I remain happy with Jaylon Smith and how he’s coming along, and look forward to watching his development this season. It’s a shame I can’t say the same about any of his teammates on that side of the ball right now.
I really have no idea what has happened to our defensive backfield. Setting aside the lack of coverage and propensity for crucial penalties tonight, why do they continually wait for the contact on plays in front of them? Instead of attacking the offensive player and limiting the progress, they wait for the offensive player to initiate the contact, thereby yielding additional yards.
I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind Nix and Tuitt putting on added weight, but that analysis should be redone more thoroughly. They both seem to have lost a step and are missing the plays they used to make. I understand Tuitt was dinged up, but should that inactivity not have been prepared for?
When you can’t force a punt or at least prevent a touchdown after a first-and-30 play, you’ve got problems on defense. When you have a strong OL, a quality group of running backs, and a quarterback with known weaknesses, and your game plan results in 51 of your 69 plays on offense being pass plays, you’ve got problems on the sidelines.
2013 remains a bad year to be a Notre Dame football fan. We can only hope things improve.
Michigan still sucks.