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  • Irish Recover to Avoid Disaster

    by John Vannie

    A funny thing happened to Notre Dame as it headed toward another epic collapse fueled by a handful of horrific special teams miscues – the Irish caught a break. With two minutes remaining and the winning score a few tantalizing feet away, tight end Durham Smythe had the ball knocked out of his hands as he stretched toward the goal line, and a wild scrum ensued. Somehow, Notre Dame came up with the ball, and managed to hang on during the next few plays before Justin Yoon booted a 23-yard field goal for a much-needed 30-27 victory. The Irish had led 20-0 after a fast start, but in what has become an all too familiar script, they squandered the advantage with fundamental errors and questionable play calling such that a weaker opponent was able to come back and take the lead.

    The escape provided palpable relief for the players and embattled coach Brian Kelly. In truth, however, superior talent and strong character prevailed in a game that should not have been close. It’s painfully obvious that he 2016 Fighting Irish are not a well-coached team, and the initial energy in evidence after the bye week quickly dissolved into the same pattern of sloppy play and over-reliance on individual heroics. Speaking of heroes, defensive tackle Jarron Jones, cornerback Donte Vaughn and running back Josh Adams were the stars for Notre Dame, and quarterback DeShone Kizer was solid when his teammates needed him most.

    Notre Dame started strong with a crisp, up-tempo attack that found the end zone on the opening drive. Following a quick three and out by the Hurricanes, the Irish came right back with a three pointer by Yoon for a 10-0 advantage. Cole Luke intercepted Brad Kaaya three plays later and the hosts were in business at the Miami 13. A laser from Kizer to Equanimeous St. Brown stretched the lead to 17-0 with 4:23 still left in the opening period. As Jarron Jones continued to terrorize the Hurricane offensive line, Notre Dame regained possession and Yoon tacked on another field goal early in the second quarter.

    As has been the case in so many recent losses, the situation suddenly and completely deteriorated for the Irish. Trailing 20-0, Miami was forced to punt once again after three forgettable plays failed to produce a yard. This time, the bouncing punt struck Notre Dame’s Troy Pride and the Canes fell on it at the Irish 38. The turnover inspired Kaaya to hit a few passes and ultimately connect with tight end David Njoku for a score. Notre Dame’s offense seemed to go into a funk, but Miami was unable to capitalize late in the half came as a fourth down run in Irish territory fell inches short.

    The Canes took the ball to open the second half and immediately drove down the field for a touchdown to close the gap to 20-14. Meanwhile, the Irish had abandoned the run and the offense fell out of synch. When Tyler Newsome’s punt was partially blocked on the next series, momentum shifted to the visitors. Miami drew within 20-17 with a field goal on its next possession, and Notre Dame failed to answer once again. This time, a flat pass on fourth down and a foot at the Miami 29 lost five yards, and Coach Brian Kelly’s detractors booed lustily from the stands and in living rooms across America. Inevitably, the Canes marched down for a tying three pointer at the 12:30 mark of the final period.

    The teams then exchanged punts, but Notre Dame’s special teams were not finished being charitable. C.J. Sanders tried to field a bouncing punt on his own three yard line, but bobbled it into his own end zone. Miami pounced on it for the go-ahead score with 6:49 remaining in the contest. Suddenly, the Irish woke up from their long slumber as Kizer connected on two passes and Adams burst through a crowd for a 42-yard touchdown to tie it at 27. Jarron Jones then reasserted himself on defense to shut down Kaaya, and Kizer got the ball back at the Miami 40 after Chris Finke contributed a solid punt return with five minutes left.

    Adams took over to bring his team inside the ten as time ran down, setting up the pass to Smythe and scramble for the loose ball that decided the outcome. The Irish and Kelly were greatly relieved afterward and the head coach tried his best to sell an “All is Well” narrative on another flirtation with disaster against an obviously inferior opponent.

    Let’s look at the answers to the pregame questions:

    Does Chad Thomas record two sacks of Kizer himself? No, Thomas was not a factor and probably is not yet at 100%.

    Will Miami be able to stop Kizer after getting shredded last week? Not when it mattered most, although the Canes made a few defensive adjustments after the first quarter that slowed the Irish attack.

    Will Yearby and Walton combine for over 150 yards rushing? Jarron Jones made sure this was not going to happen.

    Will Brian Kelly give an ND running back more than 9 carries? It was very close. Adams had only seven carries before breaking loose in the final period. At that point, even the pass-happy Kelly had no excuse to keep him under wraps.

    Did Kelly pay any attention to the defense during the bye week or will it be more of the same? The defense played well for the most part, although the Miami offensive line was horrible. What Kelly should have done during the bye week was devote even five minutes of practice time to special teams. He didn’t.

    Will there be blue or green smoke when Notre Dame comes out of the tunnel? I really didn’t notice, but we’ve all been numbed by smoke and mirrors from Kelly.

    Bonus Question: Will Doug Flutieā€™s head explode during the broadcast? Doug was rooting so hard for the Canes that my head almost exploded.

    Next week’s opportunity is against a Navy team that gave up 650 yards to South Florida this week in a 52-45 loss, but the 3-5 Irish cannot book anything as a sure thing just yet.

    Notre Dame’s

    64 Responses to “Irish Recover to Avoid Disaster”

    1. This defense has made big strides! They shutdown the running game of the canes and how about Mr Jones!
      The man was a one man wrecking crew! The offense still puzzles me at times but Mr Adams was
      not going to be denied! Big cover up by Kizer but he still has work to do. I like the energy in the 1st half but
      the offense needs to keep it going in the 2nd half. The D is stepping up and making plays but the offense
      has to make it count. Now the special teams was a complete joke! CJ what were you thinking? Again we
      turn it over on a punt that hits someone, and what was that with the onside kick? WOW! I like the fight in
      these kids especially on the defensive side of the ball. Have we turned a corner? I sure hope so! GO IRISH!

    2. Just one comment: 4th and a foot and that high risk/high reward quick out is called! WHY???
      So stupid!

      • irish rifle says:

        Couldn’t agree more.

      • The biggest problem with that play was not the play call, but the horrible blocking of Hunter. If he just gets in the way of the one Miami defender, that may not have been only a first down, but a touchdown. Our wideouts cannot block, thus why our outside running game has suffered too.

      • SubwayAlum_USN says:

        The reason they threw that pass was due to the stacked receivers being covered by only 1 guy, so there was a number advantage. The problem with the play was hunter jr “blocking” but I feel this play encapsulates Brian Kelly. Last year was all about culture beating scheme, but this play was the exact opposite. 4th and 1, they need to get an ugly yard, and yes, Miami stacked the box, but winners find a way to get 1 yard on a tough run. Kelly, in his infinite scheming wisdom, elects for the cute way out. There are few better coaches between the 20’s when it comes to play calling, give him wide open field, and he’s a wizard, but force his hand, and he goes into the psycho-analytical mode. I watch Michigan highlights, and harbaugh is running the FB dive in that situation. This is the fundamental difference in a physical team, and our current Irish. Never mind the Irish don’t use FBs, that’s beside the point, they can still stack 11 in the box and pound the rock. That’s what a tough team would do. BK looks more like a big 12 coach, fancy plays with no balls.
        I’ve been an optimist for 7 years, often sticking up for BK on this site, feeling that he should have an opportunity to implement his plan, but in the past few weeks, especially after NC State, I realized his true nature is that he will always be a businessman, about “big chunk plays” and schemes. He doesn’t strike me as a players coach, see dabo Sweeney or harbaugh as examples. I feel that this is NDs biggest Achilles heel. When was the last hard-Nosed players coach? I’d say Holtz, and that was ’96.
        Get this guy outta there, and bring in a coach that has a little bit of crazy to him, someone not afraid to give a real ass answer instead of politicking through every question.
        Dear god, am I describing Les Miles?

        • Vairish84 says:

          That was a play call by Kizer who saw the advantage.

          • Avon Domer says:

            It astounds me on really short yardage plays like fourth and inches why Kizer can’t just take the snap from center and get it for us on a sneak or give it to Williams or Adams and get us a first down. Kizer is a big athletic kid who could do that time and time again. I understand what he saw pre-snap, but I still couldn’t believe that play call. This team relies way too much on finesse and needs to find more mental and physical toughness, and that begins with the head coach.

            • Brian Kelly isn’t allowed to be an ass b/c fans and admin try to mold him into soemthing he’s not. Gee coach, I’d like you to win a national championship with a middle of the pack staff salary for your coaches, I’d like you to also graduate at a 95% rating, I”d like you to also have everything so perfectly correagraphed like the Masters tournament on NBC every saturday.

              Sounds pretty easy.

              If ND had sway, they should get the dam cameras off these guys all the time, that includes HBO specials, NBC coaching footage on the sidelines.

              And miles once remember guys school first and football second, with his fingers in the air TWO when he said school first and football second ONE finger in the air.

              Do you think kelly really wants to be swaying with his team, he’s not himself, and its a joke, sorry.

            • The play call was an option for the QB. If Kelly made a mistake here, it is that he gave
              Kizer the option to look for the numbers advantage with the stacked WR’s. I was furious
              about the call when it occurred, but if you look at the replay pre-snap, I can see why he
              went for it. If Hunter makes the block, it’s a TD. While I’d have preferred to sneak it or
              simply run it up the gut, I’d have been equally pissed if we’d run into a stacked box and
              gotten stuffed, and then they showed the pre-snap on replay and we had a 2-on-1 on the
              outside that, if executed, results in a TD. The more football I watch, the more I see that
              the difference between a successful play and an unsuccessful play generally comes down to
              winning your one on ones and execution. You can blame Kelly and the coaches for doing a
              poor job in teaching our WR’s to block (but you’d need to demonstrate that this is a recurring
              problem). You can certainly get on Kelly about the consistently boneheaded Special Teams play.
              But that was not a bad call… it was poorly executed.

    3. lrishhawk50 says:

      Another poor game by ND,but a win. 4th and a foot and a pass? Error after error, but Miami was worse.

    4. El Capitano says:

      Agree that the defense has made some strides. Excited for our young DBs to get more experience. Donte Vaughn is a beast — when was the last time you saw and ND player in coverage locate the ball? Julian Love had a sold game. Troy Pride was the weak link but looks the part and is gaining valuable reps. Our LBs are also coming on strong. Morgan is the MVP and Coney is playing at a high level. Glad to see this kind of turn around after such a miserable start. Don’t get me wrong — they still have a long way to go as a unit but at least there is reason to hope.

    5. This was like rooting for the lousy little league team to get a win so they could go for ice cream after the game. What a joke. Still one of the worst teams in FBS.

      After watching Penn State prior to this game, here is a question to ponder. For practically as long as Brian Kelly has been “rebuilding” Notre Dame, Penn State has gone through the Paterno/Sandusky scandal, the O’Brien tenure, and now on its third coach in 5 years, most of those devoid of scholarships, Franklin Graham has build Penn State to a far better football team than ND. What is Brian Kelly’s excuse?

      After I heard the remarks today that Swarbrick guaranteed that Kelly will lead the Irish next year, I rooted hard for Miami, and will root for every opponent to win until ND is forced to make changes. After all that Penn State has been though and how far the program has come, to hear Kelly and company refer to this season as some kind of tragic misfortune that they must pull through is absolutely laughable.

      • ND Dad 2010-2014 says:

        Penn State Head coach is a BK clone. Recruiter yes… game day coach not so much just like BK.
        Penn State found the guy to lead the program. Joe Moorehead is the real deal as offensive coordinator. Motivator and student of the game he knows what the game is today on offense. A success at Fordham as a QB and later as the head coach. He’s got the resume to prove a winner everywhere he has coached. PSU beats OSU and hangs 60 + on Purdue today. Lions are very young and will become a force with him in the big ten in the next few years. Biggest difference between PSU and ND… Franklin stays out of the way with Lions offense and Kelly has to have his hands in on everything involved with the IRISH O. Did you run the offense as a QB with success in your college career BK? Love th IRISH and always will and I do hope our boys make it to a bowl game because they need the extra time to work for next season but BK needs to move on and we have to look for a leader who knows the college football game today.

      • James Franklin is the head coach at PSU while Franklin Graham is a well known Christian evangelist and son of Billy Graham. But maybe Franklin Graham is serving as team spiritual advisor for PSU behind the scenes.

        • They game plan against OSU every year.
          We game plan against no one consistently and expect stellar results.
          IT’s like comparing apples to oranges.

          • Dude a far better football program than ND?
            ND has beaten OKlahoma, Stanford, and LSU in the time frame.
            Let’s not annoint PSU a far better football program, theyve had a meaningful bowl win over uga, ours was lsu.
            Maybe a push btwn psu and ND.

    6. Oh well, a win is a win. We witnessed two mediocre teams continuing their downward spiral today. Now for a few dopey comments:

      1. Can we sustain anything as a team? To be up by 20 and surrender 27 unanswered points is ludicrous. This is a pathetic team. Every week is virtually the same thing.
      2. Our offensive line is terrible. It is clear that Kelly has little confidence in them, nor should he. I am dismayed by this fact since every football team BEGINS with its O line.
      3. Our players are overrated. Most would not be starting on Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, etc.
      4. Special teams resemble the Keystone Cops.
      5. Can’t wait until next year.

      • John Vannie says:

        You had me until #5. What leads you to believe that next year will be different?

        • Denny Nead says:

          Maybe the players will know that what a live ball is and stay away (20 Feet) from the ball if you can’t catch it

        • Can you lay out what specifically you would do if you were ND top brass to fix things? Fire everyone related to the Football program and start over? if so, with whom?

          • John Vannie says:

            Thomas, the commitment to excellence in football has to start at the very top. This has become more difficult in recent years as the makeup of the Board of Trustees has changed such that football is no longer considered a priority by an ever-increasing faction. Of course, the revenue the program generates is very welcome, and NBC can’t be happy that its ratings have declined so precipitously. There is also the matter of the Crossroads investment and the difficulty in selling PSLs and outrageously priced game tickets. Thankfully, there are still a few people at the school that understand football’s importance to the identity of the school and want to fix it. The question is whether they know how to do it. Jack Swarbrick has proven to be an effective AD in many aspects of the job, but he has hitched his wagon to Kelly and does not appear to have the will to make a change. The task may come down to Fr. Jenkins, who moved decisively in 2004 to replace Ty Willingham over the objections of his AD and several other administrators.

            If a change is going to be made, the school must begin now to research and contact potential candidates, leaving no stone unturned. There is nothing to lose by talking to coaches like Urban Meyer, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Bill O’Brien, Jon Gruden, and even Tom Coughlin. There are also a number of up and comers in the college ranks, and a national search will yield a workable short list. The most important components any candidate must bring to the table are a proven system consistent with ND’s traditions, the ability to identify and attract high quality assistant coaches, and the high energy needed to instill discipline and recruit aggressively. Brian Kelly has failed in all of these categories. Furthermore, the current strength and conditioning program is among the worst in the college ranks. The linemen have been getting pushed around for years now, and that has to stop.

          • Term limits on coaches capped at 10.
            Correct to not have too much power given to one guy.

    7. Vannie,

      I’m not impressed with the win.. Horrible special teams.. Terrible play claying.. Very
      little push from the OLine..

      BK must go.. We need new energy and leadership!! Navy will give us fits all day!!

      • Special team play has been horrible for years as noted on many occasions in these replies. Apparently, they don’t consider it important, or don’t feel it is a problem. I think we lead the nation in punts touching oblivious players and recovered by the opponrnt.

    8. Agree with about all that was said, critically- special teams miscues, some questionable play calls, etc. Although I don’t know that I would call Miami another clearly “inferior opponent.” Is anyone, clearly inferior to us just now? But I’m so happy to win a close game for once i’m just gonna enjoy this one for a few days and make believe that all is well under the Golden Domes. Beating Miami is sweet too. Navy will be another flip a coin nail biter, I can pretty much guarantee, but that’s another weekend’s problem.

      • John Vannie says:

        What surprised me about Miami is they did not have a single difference maker on the offensive or defensive line. That is not the Miami tradition I remember, and it’s why I regarded them as an inferior opponent. ND’s linemen may have underachieved all season and are undoubtedly overrated as compared to their recruiting rankings, but they were far superior to Miami today.

    9. Question John: if this team manages to win out and win a moderate bowl game do we start to see hope of a turn around for the future?

      • John Vannie says:

        I regard Navy as a tossup game and I am not confident ND will be able to beat Virginia Tech or USC. Therefore, a 5-7 record is the most likely outcome. To answer your question, a 7-5 finish would indeed be an accomplishment and something that would give me pause to reconsider the prospects for next season. Certainly, the talent is there to compete with most/all teams on our schedule, but the overall coaching staff and schemes leave much to be desired. Recruiting has also fallen off in the last two years, and pure physical strength is an issue in the trenches. The offensive line is an embarrassment in this regard, despite Harry Hiestand’s ability to teach proper technique. Unfortunately, I did not see anything today to convince me that the few positives that occurred are sustainable and sufficient to enable this team to win out.

        • That’s right. Picking up a win by squeaking by another struggling team proves nothing. If anything, it just delays the inevitable.

    10. ND Dad 2010-2014 says:

      Spot on Van. 5-7 is absolutely what I think and that’s ashame. To much raw talent that deserves a higher level of coaching and sadly that has not been the way for years now here at ND. Give this program what it so desperately needs in a young coach who may not be among the top few head coaches available now. Make a concise search for a talented coordinator who is a few years removed from the game as a player who knows the game and more importantly knows what it takes
      to win.
      PS
      See my above post in reply to Penn State comeback this year.

    11. 4th and 1 and he goes naked in the backfield and then calls a wide receiver screen? One of the dumbest calls I have ever seen.We may have won today but the future is bleak if this idiot continues to call plays.

    12. Don’t understand why ND would want to go to a meaningless bowl game. Irish played Ohio State last year and is 3 & 5 just 10 months later. Fact that BVG returned demonstrated that Kelly learned little from losing to OSU. Kelly has to use December to find a group of effective assistant coaches for 2017.

    13. Carlos Bauza says:

      The fever does not come from the bedsheets. It comes from the patient. ND Football is above Brian Kelly! Mediocre fevered playing is the only foreseeable result. No matter how many new assistant coaches are paraded!

    14. I am glad we won and against Miami who I just don’t care for. But…we had two weeks to prepare a home game for a team that really isn’t that great being coached by a man in his first year. Kelly has been here 7 years now and look at us. I can understand 2 or 3 (a down year) losses but 5. And more will be coming. I love Navy but come on…the fact that we are sweating playing Navy says it all and this is not to take anything away from them. Their coach squeezes everything out of them every week.

      I will end by saying this…if Kelly does run the table from here on and finishes with a 7-5 record, then I will give him credit that he righted the ship and should continue on. My view is that they are not going to fire him no matter. So winning out would make Kelly more palliatable going forward. However, I do not consider him a great coach who can eventually win a National Championship at Notre Dame. And there may well be other factors in administration that would hinder anyone and this I just don’t know.

    15. Well a win is a win is a win. At this point in the season ND needs everyone!

      On a side note when is ND going to realize with this agreement with NBC
      that there should be ND announcers like Joey T., The Bus, Steve Beruline?!
      I agree with you I get sick of these announcers rooting publicly for the teams the ND plays!!!!
      Does ND need the money that bad? Why doesn’t ND get their own tv station!!!!

    16. irish rifle says:

      Two disastrous special teams’ mistakes cost the Irish 14 points. Would not have been a close game otherwise. Obviously an area that needs to be cleaned up.

    17. If you like your Kelly, then you can keep your $warbucks. $warbucks has put himself directly in front
      of Kelly and from the unambiguous public statements this week, Kelly is here for the duration and any
      regime change must start with giving $warbucks his walking papers. Each week brings new head
      scratching plays, errors, omissions and mind numbing coaching decisions (and plays). No competent and
      conscientious AD could look back over the last 8 games (and longer) and believe the program is tending
      toward the highest levels. Only a man who is afraid to admit his signature hire is a flop would continue
      forward after this season. Mediocrity appears to be the high water mark for ND football. No one should find any solace in yesterday’s victory over a very
      poor Miami team. It is apparent to me that the calls for Kelly’s head are completely misguided.
      They must start with $warbucks.

    18. On the recovered on-side kick, Miami coach Mark Richt said he noticed ND was consistently out of position and consistently
      not covering or approaching at the time of the kickoff. If Richt noticed this how is that a man who was
      been doing this for 27 years did not notice it and correct it. ND has a punt return team who is under no
      obligation to touch the ball creating a live ball and seemingly does so regularly by both error and omission
      as we saw both yesterday and a kickoff team which is damn well obligated to cover the live ball after
      10 yards and is not covering, is out of position, and is backing away from a live ball after 10 yards. What
      we are witnessing is ND devolving in Grand Valley State. If yesterday’s special teams debacles did not send send
      a clarion call to $warbuck that this job is too big for Kelly, then it is clear this job is too big for $warbucks.

    19. I find the backseat coaching fairly amusing. “Get rid of all the coaches!” That will do it. Fast start and then dramatic lull in offensive play until the 4th quarter. I’m pretty sure this and the constant miscues are driving Kelly up a wall as well. There was a day when we weren’t even competititive when losing. All games have been close at the very least. There is absolutely no guarantee that a coaching change is going to produce dramatically better results… But of course it’s the easiest thing to say.

      • John Vannie says:

        Yeah, that’s it. After all, Notre Dame was built on a Commitment to Mediocrity, right?

      • Weis lost close frequently too. Look at his last 4 games which sealed his fate. Most Weis blowouts were at the hands of Pete Carrolls USC teams which would mop the floor with Kelly as well. Kelly has been blown out plenty including by a bad USC team.

        By your logic, Kelly is simply unlucky his players make stupid mistakes. Meanwhile Harbaugh got lucky he inherited football geniuses who forgot they were smart under Hoke. Good luck with that Arguement.

        I appreciate your optimism but reality must be accepted at some point. We are not a top 15 program under Kelly.

    20. I do not recall a more mistake prone, fundamentally bereft Notre Dame team in all my years, and I’ve been around a while. I have been a staunch defender of Coach Kelly but even my patience has worn thin. ESPN listed two of our offensive lineman among the top four NFL prospects, yet we pass on fourth and a foot because our running game is usually stuffed in similar situations. Our lineman on both sides of the ball appear to be “gentle” giants. The lack of aggression is shocking compared to winning teams. This problem of not getting out of the way of punts is baffling. How difficult can it be to simply not have the ball hit you? And Sanders decision to go for the ball inside the five after a bounce simply can’t be explained. And why, the first time something goes wrong, do we pack it in and stop playing as if our feelings are hurt? John, what do you see as needing to happen before a coaching overhaul can take place?

      • John Vannie says:

        Tom, I’m afraid at this point in the season we will be treated to more of the same. We saw all of the new offensive wrinkles we’re going to see in the first quarter yesterday, but the remaining practice time each week will be spent running Kelly’s system. With Navy and Army coming up, the defense will focus on the triple option. As far as special teams are concerned, they’ve been neglected for seven seasons, so why change anything now? At least the effort from the players has been solid, but a loss to Navy could put a stake through their hearts. One must hope that the program can stay afloat so that more of the committed recruits don’t decide to bail. The poachers will be out in force because they can smell blood in the water.

    21. Thankfully, I just watched parts of the 1st and 4th quarters. That said, the D looked like they trusted their instincts and attacked and acted as the aggressors. The offense seems to have a bit of an identity, but seems to outsmart itself, so much so that they seem to forget how to compete for 2 quarters. The special teams demonstrates how poorly coached the team remains due to the lack of attention to detail and confidence. As I’ve mentioned before, watching football only makes me nervous and guilty for wasting time.

    22. I’m happy for the players that they finally notched a win, but it’s kind of sad that a 30-27 win over a mediocre Miami team is considered epic. I turned the game off when it was 17-0 but told myself this was about the time ND took the rest of the game off until the fourth quarter and sure enough, I turn the game back on in the early 4th quarter and it’s 20-17 and the announcers are talking about how the momentum has swung to Miami.

      From a program perspective, we’re still losing ground to other top programs and we’re just lucky Michigan isn’t on the schedule with Jim Harbaugh strolling the sidelines. Why Jack Swarbrick thinks next year will bring double digit wins is beyond me as the underachieving, inconsistency and sloppiness and been a hallmark of the Kelly regime.

      • Agree and come game one 2018, I see no chance the Irish beat Michigan if Kelly is still around. A close loss / moral win is the best we could hope for and has become the hallmark of the Kelly era. The physical play, discipline and elite defense Harbaugh created almost instantly at Michigan has shined a giant spotlight on our problems.

    23. Well at least we have a win this week as a backdrop to mull these things over. Sucky season and all it still makes a difference. At the risk of sounding too optimistic it hurts to think of how many close losses this team suffered that could have/should have gone the other way. Starting with game 1 in Texas. Anyone who remembers the 2007 season- that was truly the pits. Losing by 30, 40 points. A freshman Jimmy Clausen starting at qb who went down for a sack if a DL sneezed. Our best player of whole team was Tom Zibikowski at safety. No diss on him, we need more of that attitude today! If a program can somehow find its way back from being out the top 100 in all stats then surely this team with all these
      close painful losses can find things to build on. Who can deny the D has been away better without BVG?and we got Kizer, not Clausen! Or maybe not. Maybe they’ll lose
      to Navy and truly fold.

      BUT for me I’m setting my bar at winning out and winning a bowl game. That’s what it’s gonna take for me to see ND as being fun again and something to look forward to in seasons to come. A losing record and no bowl game Kelly must must must go! Just how I’m seeing it…

    24. Mike Larson says:

      Isn’t there some coach out there with some decent experience who, like Digger Phelps some years ago, writes in asking for a coaching position out for love for and willingness to commit himself to Notre Dame and coaching a winning football team at Our Lady’s university?

    25. Going naked in the backfield on 4th and 1 and throwing a receiver screen is one of the dumbest calls I have ever seen .Add to that the calls near the goal line just show the arrogrance and stupidity of this man.We may have won last nite but our future is bleak.

    26. Going with no running back in the backfield on 4th and 1 was one of the dumbest calls I have ever seen.Add to it the goal line play selection also shows how little this man knows about game situations.BK thinks he is smarter than everyone else.Arrogrance and stupidity is a lethal combination.We may have won last nite but the future with this man is certainly bleak.

    27. I have said something like the following in the past, but am obviously a voice in the wilderness; I am no longer a Kelly defender, but I watch a lot of college football and see most of the same mistakes made by other big schools and their coaches. Tom Herman was worth 15-20 million a year to everyone until now he sucks. Kirby Smart and Mark, Richt would have been such great upgrades but oh wait, they are not. James Franklin has done a better job at Penn State? Give me a break.

      Clearly Van Gorder was a major mistake and a major part of the problem. But now that is corrected, although it took half a season too long.

      It is Trump like thinking to think that Kelly et al. do not coach the kids about the punt situations. Of course they do, but the kids make the mistakes. Both punt touches were freshmen, and CJ Sanders simply made a mistake. He is one of our best players and probably thought he saw a chance to do something.
      I will never blame any of our best players for trying to make a play, but sometimes they are going to screw up.

      Finally about results. I am not defending Kelly, but the fact remains that we could have been 6-2,7-1 just as easily as 3-5. I am hopeful that this is our fluke year of close losses, and the same team, playing the same games next year would be 7-1.

      I am disturbed about how many guys here seem to hate everything about the team . If it annoys you this much, stop watching for Godssakes!

      Me, I will enjoy the team and curse our fate in years like this, and enjoy it in years like last year. The team does not owe any of us anything.

      But I do wonder why most of us (me in particular) could call a better game than is called. It is a strange sport!

      Go Irish. Beat Navy!

    28. Ellen Bush says:

      I’m sorry but blowing a 20-0 lead??? Get RID of the coach and the AD. Where are the rich alum when we need them to exert their might and get rid of the coach and AD? Even our top recruits are leaving for better coaching e.g. Going to Michigan and Jim Harbaugh. A sad state of affairs.

    29. The last thing I’ll say is that things would be different if Kelly led ND to top 10 finishes the last three seasons and at least one major bowl win. Then you could write this year off as just an anomaly and have some confidence in Kelly to fix things, but we can’t because this will make the fourth time in seven years that ND has posted five losses under Kelly.

      Neither a jumbotron, “crazy train” blaring from the sound system on third downs nor a circus like atmosphere at home games have brought us championship caliber football.

      • Those close losses to Clemson on the road and FSU on the road could have been so big for Kelly’s record.
        Both really could have been wins, one extra yard by kizer, or the poor rub block call that called it back on gholson. Those are the darn games that would give us relevance, but instead we couldn’t pull it out.

    30. I’m firmly with Canuck 75. We should all take a deep breath and realize that there are only 8 teams that have at least 8 wins each season for the last 6 years, and ND is one of them. BK is a good coach, with flaws; and there are no magical solutions on the horizon for who could be better. The players do make mistakes as well, as do we all, and some of them should not be blamed on the coaches. Specifically, it appears that the horrible 4th down pass instead of a run was an audible by Kizer… Also, CJ (by all accounts a wonderful and very talented young man) should have run up and caught the first punt as he was trained to do, and he should not have touched the second one, as he was trained not to do. Same for Jalen on the onsides kick.
      Lou Somogyi’s recent article on the reasons for the perfect storm of losses this season is worth a re-read by us all; as Lou points out, some of the factors are on BK, some are not, like the deep losses in senior leadership; and the ones that are on him by all accounts he is trying to fix (within the limits of the stubbornness that makes him a good program builder and a spotty game day coach).
      It will be interesting how this group gets set for two good service academies. Much against option football will rely on our young players’ discipline, so we will get a good measure of their improvement.
      Beat Navy!

      • Mike Coffey says:

        “the stubbornness that makes him a good program builder and a spotty game day coach”

        We’re in year 7, and that hasn’t improved. Ergo, it’s time for a change, because a “spotty game day coach” will not win a National Championship.

        • Let me preface this by saying that as a kid I suffered through the Brennan, Kuharich, and H Devore II years; then while manning the defenses of the Cold War, agonized though Faust’s up and downs; then like most all of us, the awfulness of Davie/TW/CW. Through the last two decades, I have always intensely admired your personal refusal to settle for mediocrity in ND football And like so many in the Notre Dame family, I have selfishly taken advantage of your superb devotion to your site, linking so many different articles etc.
          That being said – I am not sure you can conclude that simply because BK has shown it will be very tough to move him off some of his game day peculiarities (like no QB under center for 4th and 1, a la the Pats), that it will be impossible for him to change. The BVG firing is the most recent case in point, but the way he ran his offense in 2012 is another. To make the point from analogy, recall Lou Somogyi’s excellent recent piece about the head coaches who won National Championships after 7-8 years. Change can happen and I submit the jury should still be out on BK. It is clear that he has not lost this young team.
          I concede that this looks far from an assured path to our birthright of more NCs. But in our current era it is harder and harder to square the circle of what Father Joyce called “a certain muscular Christianity”, which even in the days of Rock and Fr Cavanagh, to say nothing of Leahy and Fr Ted, was a source of strong tension. I guess what I am saying is that BK has rebuilt a program that was tattered indeed, has recruited at the top 10-15 level (which is about all the traffic will bear given how our SAT averages at ND have mushroomed), has fielded a group of young men we can be (mostly) proud of, and who IMO with a strong dose of luck can compete for the NC.

    31. I like that you mentioned Flutie in your analysis…I have been calling for NBC to replace him since he started. He is AWFUL.

      • Flutie is perfect for the farce coverage on NBC.
        i long for the non over hyped coverage.
        Just 10 point victories over every meaningful opponent, it let that result speak for itself.

        • Why is it that Flutie is on the broadcast? Its so embarrassing and irritating to hear him week in and week out.

    32. Comments about ND talent not being up to par are inaccurate. We recruit well. Not like Alabama or Ohio State but better than two thirds of the top 15 teams. the issues it he horrible coaching. Seven years and the inability to have even below average special teams. Our special teams are pathetic and horrible. Below average would be a major upgrade for a Kelly coached teams. Apathy, lack of fundamentals and inability to put opponents away are all trademarks of Kelly coached teams. He has to go. I don’t advocate firing him in the middle of the season although he has earned that opportunity, but I would methodically search and find someone and then dump Kelly like a hot potato. If Jack doesn’t do that perhaps Jack needs to go. I suspect that having the guaranteed NBC ocntract makes ND lazy in its decisions to change the coach. If the money wasn’t guaranteed and it had to be earned Kelly would not be the coach.

      • when the big people join the biggest loser and focus just on weight loss they lose 150 pounds to 200 pounds

        when top talent is not focused on football, it atrophies and becomes mediocre.

    33. Such a bad season and so many played a part in it. Looking ahead, I think this team does need to win 6 games and get into a meaningless bowl because the young kids could use it and it will be a small step towards building for next year. I think they will win 6 and get beaten up at SC. Anyone who thinks it’s a toss up against Navy is just down on the program. They could lose to anyone so I get it but they will beat Navy and Army and then upset a solid Va Tech team just because the law of averages says they will play 1 good game this season. 6-6 and a trip to Yankees Stadium might be our destiny this year—how sad but its our reality so I will embrace it and root to be 6-5 heading to Southern Cal.

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