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  • Here We Go Again? (aka Weis Redux)

    by SEE

    (The Rock Report | Notre Dame Football News) – A 1-2 start, questionable on the field calls, a rapidly disappearing running game and defense that has given up over 200 yards rushing two weeks in a row is causing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst the faithful early on in the Kelly regime.  I thought Lou Somogyi did a nice job in summing up those feelings in his article What Can Be Said.

    I’ve read more than a few times that this feels more like Weis redux than a return to Holtz and after two post-game Kelly temper tantrums, I’m clearly not immune either, but it’s actually at this juncture that Kelly will likely (or should) begin to separate himself from Weis.  People seem to view the first three games through their own viewpoint of what they expected.

    Notre Dame is 1-2  and there are some  worrisome observations.

    • It appears Kelly is coaching this offense as if he’s had it for a couple of years and not 10 months.  It showed far too much confidence in the offense  to go for it on 4th down with 6 minutes left against Michigan State.  Having a newbie quarterback go for seven against Michigan was similarly a poor call especially when Ruffer has been so accurate.
    • Despite a stated preference to run the ball more with a big offensive line and a group of strong running backs, Kelly’s running game has been regressing.
    • Similarly, Michael Floyd seems to have regressed from a sure handed wide receiver to a “I hope he catches it and holds onto it” wide receiver. He’s still an incredible talent and some may say a more complete receiver, but consistency is very important when you’re passing it 60 times a game.
    • I started the season with doubts about Diaco and the first few games haven’t done much to ease those doubts.  I do like that the tackling is better.
    • I’m not sure Crist has the consistency to run this offense at the level of precision Kelly is counting on (see number 2.)  This offense is about execution and inconsistency throwing and catching the ball will make it pedestrian.
    • Safety play…
    • The “I don’t care about the time of possession” philosophy only works when the offense is putting points up on the board.  The idea here is to score fast and make the other team work to get points.  Number 1 is essential.  As Molnar said (paraphrase time), “if you’re going three and out this offense is not pretty.”

    Of note, Kelly’s inconsistency between his statements before the season about the running game and playing to this teams strengths… and what’s happened on the field to date, do not match up.  Here’s where I see an applicable Weis analogy.  Kelly will default to the pass.  I still believe Notre Dame would have beaten Ohio State in Weis’s first year if he used Walker more and didn’t default to the pass.  I understand that when clicking, this offense can work and have noted Oklahoma is running the ball at 133 yards per game as well, but, like Weis, Kelly seems to be counting on a higher level of execution in the passing game than the team is capable of delivering. Last month Vannie considered the spectrum of outcomes:

    While it’s possible for the Irish to string together a series of victories against a relatively weak 2010 schedule, the win-loss record of Kelly’s first team is not necessarily the most reliable indicator of future success. There simply won’t be sufficient data to determine if an 8-0 start means that Kelly should be compared to Ara Parseghian or Willingham. Perhaps the best answer would be “neither”. Similarly, if Kelly delivers a 6-6 campaign, fans may not be sure whether to associate it with Lou Holtz’ first season or Weis’ last. The answer will lie in the details.

    That said, of more note, is how the two coaches are different in running a program.  The first season is more about changing the culture and putting in place a process of winning. When Kelly walked in and declared that recruiting was not his top priority, fixing issues within the program were, I, like many, started to sweat.   But Notre Dame had some fundamental problems that needed to be addressed from a program perspective.

    Here are some of the fundamental problems and how Kelly is addressing them (whether they’re successful, of course, we won’t know for a while)

    Weis had far too complicated a passing offense than could be reasonably be expected to be executed without without a strong running game.

    • Kelly runs a far simpler passing offense that has allowed many different quarterbacks to succeed quickly.  When someone wrote that laughable arguable about Kelly being a “magician with quarterbacks” (or whatever the phrase was) it boils down to “making it simple, practicing it over and over again and focusing on the details.”
    • Kelly engineers more practice time “reps” in the time allotted by moving at a faster pace and setting up concurrent drills.  His “work volume” phrase is really about reps.

    Under Weis, we had constant reports of players out of shape, culminating with Bert Berry’s damning comments after the Blue and Gold game.

    • The training table was already in the works and Kelly had it put in the Gug so that players weren’t traveling across campus.
    • Kelly’s third coordinator model means Longo has the same input as a coordinator.  This does a couple of  things.  If players aren’t working hard in the weight room, they can see practice reps diminished.  He also can relay information about a player who might be an attitude problem.
    • His practices serve as workouts as well.
    • Kelly tries to manage their off-field behavior by constant communication about diet and choices.

    Under Weis there was much dissention amongst the staff and they all had different ways of doing things.

    • Kelly put together a staff with a goal of minimizing the dysfunction and one that he knows.

    Under Weis the team lacked toughness and didn’t  play hard until the game was on the line.

    • Kelly’s practices are constant motion to simulate a game environment.
    • Camp Kelly puts them through what is a simulated environment of performing while exhausted.
    • Constant and consistent messaging through the staff on work ethic and toughness.  “How do you come to work every day.”
    • Creating more of  team feel by keeping the players in the Gug.
    • Preaching the three themes of Lou: Caring, Commitment and Trust.
    • Motivating kids to their potential rather than their current level.

    Under different coaches bore unequal burdens in recruiting.

    • Kelly put into place a process and a database to manage recruiting and filter up information on recruits.

    I’m sure there are many more from admin to the field crew.  What does all of this mean?  My guess is that where a Weis team (2007) might have folded, this team will show more resiliency.  I’ve yet to witness a great coach have a great first year at the helm with a new team and that’s usually because they’re changing so many things about the processes, the habits, the offense, etc.   Many coaches have started out strong, but because they didn’t build a strong foundation for long-term success, eventually failed.

    Of course none of this means Kelly should have gone for it on 4th down with 6 minutes to go against Michigan State or not taken the three against Michigan.   I’m also cringing at thought of  Harbaugh coming to South Bend and beating the Irish handily, which is a distinct possibility.   If Kelly goes 1-3, he better also have a new process for keeping the Irish hordes at bay.

    68 Responses to “Here We Go Again? (aka Weis Redux)”

    1. Joseph Burke says:

      It safe to say that defensivley there are terrible sore spots. At times there have been flashes, and at times strong consistency. Kelly to me feels like His own Coach with a solid plan in mind. Its very early in the seoson, Floyd had some mishaps, but showed signs of coming to life in the MSU game. Theo Riddick also seem to come to life in the MSU game as well, The running game maybe has only taken a backseat i beleive to get the consitency with all the recievers going as you spoke of in the article. I feel with floyd and Riddick going strong now and T.J. Jones, and Rudolph going strong, youll see more flow in passing which will revert back to more running against stanford. As for the defense only time will tell. Im glad there is no false return to glory talk yet, because had they won against Michigan and MSU, everyone including myself would have looked past inconsistncies

    2. What I have seen as the main issue with Kelly’ team this year is that the offense is not performing well enough to help the defense. We need at least 30 points per game, and more, to allow the defense some room to take risks on plays, which we have not. That’s why we rank so low on defense of turnovers. Right now Diaco’s defense is fine, it’s Kelly’s offense that is not. If a team plays no-huddle they have to score, and the offense is not scoring enough to win against good teams. In Michigan, if we had been up 10 to 14 points at the end, it would not have mattered if Robinson scored; same true with MSU game. We need 30+ points to win in a no huddle.

    3. Each of the three blown calls could have resulted in a ND win. Biased officiating resulted in losses with Weis and now with Kelly. Until ND gets neutral officials, ND will only win games in which ND is significantly better than the competition.

      • Brian Reinthaler says:

        While I acknowledge that certain issues with officials need to be addressed, the bottom line is that ND should be significantly better than at least 9 fo 12 opponents on an anuual basis. That ND has not been significantly better than half its schedule in many of the last 14 seasons is the biggest problem and the one that ND alone has the power to address.

      • Jeez, whining about bad calls sounds like just plain whining. As a fmpous basketball coach once said when questioned about being beaten by a 3-pointer (he was against the rule change): Yopu don;t let it be a two-point game. So you don’t let it get to a once-call game. Play, not whine. I would be in favor of a rule change wherein any plkayer or sideline member of the team who mimics the throwing of a flag gets one for unsportsmanlike conduct. Then again, I am against the bobble-heads on the field after a tackle or first down as well.

        • A great team can over come many bad calls. A good team can over come a few. A marginal team can overcome one. We are not yet where we can overcome several bad calls. That’s not whining. That’s just the facts.

    4. I think the real test will be the Utah game. That was the area of the schedule where the Weis teams struggled.

    5. Dude, you are spot on. This writing was fair and balanced and devoid of the panic of other writers, Thanks, I actually feel better about Stanford coming to town.

    6. So you need to coach a team couple years before you can trust them on 4th down? It’s always a gamble, make it and your brillant, fall short, well… I guess your Weis. To be honest, I’m almost happy (not really lol) that we lost with rainbows and leperchans dancing, and all the other meaningless sh** we as fans have over emphasized with our recently masqueraded “return to glory” quick fixes. As Rock once said, “it’s not how many times you get knocked down; it’s how many times you get back up.” Balboa was a wise man, and that is the real test this season. Great coaches keep the faith though adversity, who doesn’t do well with the breaks, but when the breaks are beating the boys… there I go with the nostalgia. Go Irish!

    7. The defense is still the same guys from last year. If ND would have some consistency on the defensive side of the ball then maybe ND would have a tolerable defense right now. These guys that are playing were recruited to play in a 3-4. Then Tenuta changed up to a 4-3, now Diaco has them back to a 3-4 but its a different type of 3-4. The future is bright, but right now ND plays one of the toughest schedules in the country. Give Kelly time, he is the right guy.

    8. Check you premise says:

      I think Kelly’s strategy around time of possession is flawed. It keeps his best unit (offense) on the field for 1/3 of the game and his worst unit (defense) 2/3. The defense gets tired and then starts to play slow. Holtz’s use to use his running game to soften the opponents defense in the first half to 3 quarters and then in the fourth quarter, they would pile up yardage. You don’t wear down a defense throwing the ball. Where is Robert Hughes?? Kelly should use him in the first half to help soften the defense. The other backs do a nice job of avoiding the hit, Hughes does a good job of delivering the hit.

    9. As a hardcore Notre Dame fan, I really cant believe that you would post something like this at this juncture in the season. They have played THREE games, of which two were decided by five or less points. And if one play goes our way either game, you would be writing about how Brian Kelly is the new messiah of Notre Dame football. I am not bothered by this slow start at all because I remember when Weis and Willingham got off to great starts everyone was screaming that ND was back and look where that ended. This is the reason why people say Notre Dame fans are vicious because they have no patience. Lou Holtz was 6-6 in his first season. Brian Kelly is a great coach, he has changed the cutlure. Dayne Crist will be an amazing quarterback, he has improved a lot every single game, and I think there is no ceiling on this guy. I hope that we as ND fans, can show support even when things get tough.

      • I couldn’t agree more… As a long time ND fan, I have been telling everyone to chill out. They clearly look like a different team, the culture has changed and it shows while watching this team play. I believe in BK and his coaching. This team is well conditioned and plays hard, something I haven’t seen in years! That alone makes me happy, and makes me look forward to each game because I know we are going to get their best out there, Kelly will make sure we see their best out there. We easily could be 3-0 right now, sure there have been calls that are subject to scrutiny, and blame as to why we lost both of these games but at the end of the day we have put ourselves in a position to win every game. I don’t see the record as telling of what has gone on here with our football program, say what you want about BK and his program, but it will be a winning program and we will all be very happy ND fans by the end of this year as to the progress we’ve seen with this team, their trust in BK and in each other. Think about it guys (panicking fans) this is BK’s first year, I couldn’t be happier with our team and couldn’t be more excited at what I see coming along… A tough, hard-nosed team that plays with all their hearts, has conditioning that enables them to do so, and an Offensive and Defensive gameplan that puts us in a position to win every game, especially once the system is fully in place and consistency increases, as it will. GO IRISH! By the way, call me crazy but I smell an upset in South Bend coming this Saturday boys!

    10. Kelly is a championship calliber coach. This team is still suffering from a weis hangover. A win this week will hopefuly silence the critics. At least for a while.

    11. Don’t panic. Kelly has been in charge for only about 9 months, he has a primo recruiting class in the wings, the kids he is coaching are just as [pissed as he is at the way things are going and

    12. The guy is three games into the season and was a few questionsable calls/decisions away from being 3-0. All great coaches either struggle or do not light the world on fire in their first season (see Saban, Nick and Stoops. Bob). It is in year 2 or 3 of the regime where true greatness comes. Give BK another year (or two), and I promise you no one will be complaining or comparing him to Weis then.

    13. Nice balanced commentary. Let’s not freak out yet, but let’s acknowledge some concerns.

      I agree with you that Kelly seems to default to the pass. With two — or three — good backs available, it’s unfortunate that the pass seems to be so pivotal in Kelly’s mind. We have backs that make people miss. We have a fairly decent offensive line that can create holes. Rely on both and keep your defense off the field for awhile.

      On defense, we are solid but somewhat slow up front. Other than the special teams muff at MSU (field goal), I am not too disappointed in the way the defense has played. We’re going to struggle against really quick backs because they can get outside and our guys just aren’t quick enough to contain. But they seem to be able to get to the Q.

      Now the 4th down play has me worried about this team. I have to think that Kelly anticipated the fake. It just seems like the kids ignored it. It was a 46 yard field goal. They had to seriously contemplate fake.

    14. Nice article. I agree with the overall theme in that if you’re going to build a castle, it better not be on sand; bedrock is preferable. It is supposed to take time to work toward sustainable success.
      One thought, how about a coach as game manager? With everything else Brian Kelly has to worry about, one voice can direct him as to when to kick a field goal and take the three points that will be needed in the second half, when not to go for it on fourth down because field position says not to and when to call a timeout when the oppostion is shifting from a field goal formation into a fake.
      Ted Kazmar is spot on in his comment about officiating. Notre Dame has not been good enough in the last several years to continually overcome the 12th man. In many instances, it feels that as though the game is lost before it’s played because of jaded referees. That falls on the AD, to place into the contract with any future opponent, the use of officials that have no affiliation with either school (i.e., use the MAC). Ultimately, the NCAA bears the overall burden to convert to a different officiating model, as there have been countless examples of blown calls during the ‘replay’ years to cite the misinterpretation of lag time.

    15. Hordes?…Totally irrelevant. Kelly is in this for the long-term and has the support of the AD come hell or high water.

      I think that there are some good observations here, but fundamentally, ALL Irish fans need to consider:

      This is Brian Kelly’s first year, and with it comes an entirely new offensive and defensive scheme.
      His quarterback was injured nearly all season last year.
      He is lacking talent at critical positions due to recruiting difficulties left-over from Weis (particularly on defense).

      Knowing this, what have we seen so far on the positive side:

      An offensive attack that while far less complicated actually includes misdirection and a semblance of proper run-blocking to be built upon.
      A defense that can actually tackle, and doesn’t need to blitz every single play to put pressure on the QB or stop the run.

      Though I’m disappointed with the previous two losses, the reality is that the Michigan game might have turned out differently had we had Crist throughout the game. Michigan State, ND didn’t get the breaks (though they didn’t capitalize on opportunities…again this is a new offense and HC).

      Brian Kelly is a good coach that is working this team hard. The program is finally headed in the right direction with a system that can be executed. That is completely different than the program that Weis ran (hands-off on fundamentals, hands-on with an esoteric and complex offensive system).

      Folks need to calm down. This is a game of chess, not a game of checkers. To panic demonstrates a total lack of understanding of what this guy has done for the program.

      We’ll be competitive…The question is, will being competitive be enough to get us back to the elite. I’m confident that Kelly will get us there.

    16. I see 2 major problems with our team.

      1. We are very thin in the secondary and our speed on the outside is not there. With that being said, we are giving up too many big plays. Overall though, I think our defense has been solid.

      2. Crist is still an inexperienced college quarterback in a new system.

      These 2 things have equated to CLOSE losses. There is no doubt in my mind that Kelly is the answer. He is not the problem. As Kelly said, we have started the first chapter of the book, but hang around as it will become an interesting read.

    17. I completely disagree with this comment: Of course none of this means Kelly should have gone for it on 4th down with 6 minutes to go against Michigan State or not taken the three against Michigan.

      If they punted, MSU would have run down the field (like they were all day) and scored on us with no time left. Kelly made the smart choice – stop them and we get the ball back (our offense was operating well and quickly), don’t stop them and we get the ball back with enough time to still score and tie the game. I am sick and tired of ND teams punting balls away only to watch the other team score the winning/tying points against ND’s defense, ala UM in week 2.

      This brings me to going for 7 against UM rather than 3. Put yourself in that position. You are having a very difficult time getting your offense moving, your defense is not doing anything to stop the opposition from scoring and you don’t have your starting QB…..what do you do? I’d go for 7 all day long. Going for 3 is for losers. ND was ahead late in the game, so they could have won the game right then and there.

    18. I saw MSU get around the outside corner on almost every run play. If the defense had some speed to the outside, the MSU coach would have had his heart attack with a frown on his face instead of a smile.
      With 16 seonds in regulation and 1 timeout remaining, go for it all ( twice )!

    19. Two cents from a 30 yr. coach and LOYAL ND fan (all my life)!
      – Kelly is building a PROGRAM (takes time because he must change the culture)
      – We are only 3 games in against good (not great) opponents but we are only good at this stage also.
      – If Crist does not get hurt vs. MU we are at least 2-1.
      – If Crist throws to the “open” receiver on the 4th down play he is STILL running … start up the band we would now be 3-0! Two plays … in 3 games … still not there yet.
      – The coaches watch and evaluate film of opponents … we fans do not! Therefore, they prepare the best game plan according to match-ups and talent!
      – The ONLY second guess I would have in the MSU game would be to call a timeout to “freeze” the kicker in overtime … use that time to caution the D about a possible fake, and overload the center of the formation because a long kick usually means a lower trajectory … protect the outside and deep thirds.

    20. Good article. I think time of possession is misleading with a pass-first offense, particularly with how Kelly’s is looking right now. Sure, you need a running game especially late when you want to run out the clock, but as far as how much time the defense is on the field, what really matters is actual minutes, play clock time, etc. In theory, Kelly’s offense is intended to be quick strike to keep the defense on their heels, but that is not exactly how he approached MSU, even though he kept passing. Against Purdue, we were snapping the ball before the clock hit 20 and often it was near 25. Against MSU, it seemed to a lot closer to 5, not to mention a couple of time outs and delay of game penalties. I am sure part of this was first road game jitters by Crist, but I also think Kelly intentionally slowed down the time our offense was on the field, even if it doesn’t show up in time of possession, to help out our defense. I know that can make for a longer game overall, but I would be very interested in how many “real” minutes our drives lasted compared to MSU.

      What it comes down to is, we know he plays his style of football, pass first, and he’s not going to come up with a drastically different game plan each each week. What he did with MSU is one way to slow the game down if he thinks passing first is still the best way to exploit the defense.

      …or I could be looking for way to much silver lining…

      • Great point. Within an individual game, it seems the better metric for whose defense gets more tired is relative number of plays run. If we play this way against teams not used to the pace, their defense should tire out before ours. There are some complicating factors of course. Are running plays more tiring for a defense than pass plays, or does it depend more on the specific type of play and who you are trying to tire out? Is the trade off from running plays in quick succession (i.e. shorter time for our defense on the sideline vs. more running around within the same period of time for their defense) worth it?

        Then there’s the question about the season as a whole. As a season nears its end, teams seem to wear out from accumulated minor injuries and inadequate recovery from the prior week’s game (much of which may be related to nutrition). If games are on average more tiring for our defense than for our opponents then we should expect the effect to be more pronounced later in the season.

        Kelly is of course aware of these complicating factors; the question is whether the steps he has taken to address them will prove to be adequate.

        That said, I think the real reason we have been passing so much is that Kelly seeks to take what he thinks the opposing defense gives him. Trouble is, given his gambling personality, Kelly is probably a little too optimistic about the pass.

    21. How about taking care of the ball. Way too many turnovers even with a new offensive scheme and we have not created any in the two losses. Forget the questionable calls!!! Push the team to its limit physically and mentally and then push some more. That is what great coaches do. Go Irish!!!

      • Fumbles….Floyd for example is still part of the “entitled” crowd and he fumbles more than anyone. If ihe wasn’t considered an All-American he would be benched.

    22. Right on “Z” nobody wants to give coach Kelly a shot. I think a lot of us expected him to come to ND waltz in here and go 12-0. It takes time to build a program. If they are struggling in 3 years then we all can be critics. He states sometimes it’s just a misalignment of a player or in a wrong gap that leads to a big gainer against our defense. Patience please…

    23. The commentary I have read is sensible and fair. Certainly there are concerns, but Coach Kelly seems to be the right person for ND. As an alum and a coach of various sports for many years, it hurts to watch us lose close games similar to the way we lost them last year, but I think BK has instilled “new life” in the players and the program. We need to be patient, give him and his staff some time to establish a solid foundation. I don’t think he will be leaving any time soon. He will bring us back to where we belong, at the top of the sport, and do so the ND way, with honesty, integrity, hard work, and respect for the players, fans, opponents, and the ideals of the university. He will do it with the help of players who exude confidence, toughness, and intelligence and will represent our great university with the class that it deserves. And the sooner it happens, the happier we will all be.

    24. Can’t figure out what was so offensive that my posts didn’t… well, post. Hope I didn’t hurt everyones feelings. Go Irish!

    25. If ND would have squeaked out wins against UM and MSU, instead of losing, the Irish would be 3-0 right now and there would be all kinds of lofty and unrealistic expectations about the rest of the season. Although I am disappointed with the 1-2 starts, I am not devastated by it. This team was never going to compete this year for a national title, so this now allows Kelly to keep molding his players into winners, setting things up for the next several years.

    26. You gotta love Sunday morning arm-chair quarterbacks… “What i would’ve done is this…”
      Whatever… 42% of the college games played every weekend are decided by 2 or 3 plays. Get over it.

      Go Irish! Go Kelly!

    27. Well said “Z”… thank you for posting a credible and realistic comment. It’ll happen everyone… we can all sense a change in the air regardless of the outcomes so far.

    28. Hard to argue that, when it works, Kelly’s offense is a thing a beauty. The problem is, it rarely works late in either half. Early possessions in each half go like gang-busters – lots of variety in play-calling, making full use of Crist mobility, showcasing strong running of Allen and the speed of Wood (why don’t we see more of HIM?), balancing the obvious strength of the receiving corps. Then suddenly the balance disappears, the running game stalls, and all we can accomplish are quick-outs and screens for 2-4 yards a pop for the rest of the half. Eventually the D has played itself out with too much time on the field, and when the game is on the line, the O-line crumples under the rush, Crist gets hurried and even the quick-outs don’t work anymore.
      I was in East Lansing for the MSU game, and we had every opportunity to win in a romp… MSU might as well have had my sisters playing corner. They were terrified of Floyd and Rudolph, playing 8-10 yards off the line, backing up, it seemed, from the start of the play clock. And their supposedly All-America linebacker, #53, whatever the heck his name is… one word: over-rated!
      Through it all, tho, I cannot point a finger at Kelly… not yet. Besides the playbook, he is trying to change the culture. That takes more than a few months. I agree with others who opine that this team will not curl deeper into a fetal position as the season wears on. They will continue to face some real tests vs. Stanford, Pitt, Utah and USC, but something tells me that Kelly’s demonstrated ability to build a winner will evidence itself.

    29. I think that this article is well-written, with a good amount of thought and logic. Seems to me that many ND fans ~ and alums ~ let way too much emotion get in the way of logical evaluation. I sure used to be that way. But, age and 22 years of average-at-best ~ and sometimes just bad ~ ND football have greatly tempered that emotion for me. You might say that my passion for ND football has been dampened; perhaps drenched is a better word. All that aside, logic and history tells me that we don’t know what we have with Kelly at this point. That’s reality. Three years from now, we’re going to know. But, yes, there have been some cautionary flags, regarding on-field coaching decisions. And I don’t think we beat Stanford. Hope I’m wrong.

    30. In the first three games of the year all three of the opponents were weak in the defensive secondary and that is why the running game has taken a back seat. Also if you want to install a system that will be your bread and butter I think you need to stay with it until they get it right. Wins and losses right now don’t really mean that much. I think that coach Kelly is aware of what he has and is resigned to to gut it out and not to play to the crowd. Be that as it may it sucks to lose. I’ve been going to ND games since 1973. I’ve seen the fans get on coaches even Ara felt the pressure. They wanted to get rid of Knute Rockne after a bad season. Dan Devine, the poor boy of ND’s national champ coaches, ate S…t the first season he had the job. Unfortunately, we have lost some great coaches over the years due to the unrelenting pressure to win always. Lou Holtz doesn’t look so bad right now does he. He could have still been here given a little patience. So lets try not to crap on this guy so soon.

    31. I couldn’t agree with Whitecoat more. Kelly’s offense depends on scoring quickly and a lot. Therefore, the defense will give up a lot of yards and points sometimes(they’re on the field more than most teams defenses). Having said that, we only gave up 7 points in the second have of the Michigan game, even though Robinson ran wild. Also, we stuffed MSU on the final drive of regulation and overtime. How many Wies teams would’ve have done that? Crist has to start playing more consistently, and we’ll start winning. I think Kelly underestimated his inexperience, but he’s improving every game. Fact is, Kelly’s team is much more fundamentality sound than Wies’ were. Don’t worry doubters, because there will be plenty of room on the bandwagon when we do start winning.

    32. Anyone notice that both Mich and MSU jumped up into the rankings after games vs. ND?

      Give our boys a chance. We are showing the right signs. It’s all about that ‘fire in the belly’. We’ve got it. As a great guy (my dad) said to me: Whether the odds be greater or small ol Notre Dame will win over all!

    33. I can’t believe that many fans don’t think that blown calls cause games to be lost. Blown calls always amount to points won by the other team or lost by ND. The reason the calls are so lax is because there is no accountability. The ref should be banned for life for some of the calls. In short, we need younger ref who can run and follow plays and can keep their minds on the game. Ref calls decide too many games rather than actual play. Oh Yes! Why are some calls not overturned by the refs on the field?

    34. Please stop making comparisons to Weis and questioning if Coach Kelly is the guy to bring us back. We were a 6-6 team last year that lost Clausen and Tate with a tough schedule, so I am not sure what people expected.

    35. I think Kelly will be better than the predecessors who somehow got to be coach here without ever coaching as the top guy anywhere else. That alone gives him a better shot. I am also among those who think and independent will seldom matter anymore.

    36. It was definitely tough to watch the Irish lose two games to teams they were clearly better than. Although the record doesn’t show it so far, it’s obvious this team is all-around better coached than last year. The players are in visibly better shape and there seems to be a discipline level that never seemed to be there in previous years. Kelly is taking this team in the right direction. This year’s recruiting class is slowly climbing up to the top 5 in the country with mostly defensive players as the stars. My biggest concern would be ND’s lack of a qb of the future at this point. Why D. Crist didn’t redshirt his freshman year I have no idea. The 2012 schedule will be extremely tough with Miami and OU. Without an experienced qb I don’t see the irish having a shot at beating those team.s

    37. The reason I feel optimistic, we look better. My feelings are not based on any stats. Just watching the past three games. Better tackling, players showing emotion, decent runs, etc. Feels good. Hope the gut is right!

    38. D. Crist was red-shirted his freshman year, so he could have a 5th year option if needed.

    39. I work at CMU, (last coached by brian kelly) as the video tech for the athletic dept. From what I see, the Notre Dame defense lacks athletes, more speed and physicality on the defensive line would have the team 3-0. If given 2 years ND will be playing for National Championships. The team has been lacking in those areas for quite some time, given couple recruiting classes this area will be fixed. I kinda wonder if BK will get the time to fix these areas?

      • Shannon,
        I respect your opinion but feel you are off base. The won-loss record speaks for itself for the past 17 years. ND fans are very passionate and very frustrated. The results speak for themselves unfortunately.

    40. I am the wife of a former player with the irish. I also was evolved at Notre Dame athletically. My husband and I are appalled and disgusted at the negativity of the fanbase. This article itself isn’t to bad, but the title is so ridiculus and off the mark, the title of the ariticle kind of exemplifies the quaility of fan on this site. I can say this that Notre Dame defenitly doesn’t recruit athletes with such a negative attitude that I see on this board. Have some faith in the Irish, thats part of the spirit of this University! Articles like this add more unneeded pressure to the pressure pot that is the Notre Dame football coach.

    41. Arguing this play call or that has always seemed to me rather pointless because every call is easy after the fact. Unless a coach exhibits a pattern of reckless behavior its really difficult to judge a coach on play calls that didn’t happen to work. I for one felt that going for the touchdown at the end of the 1st half against Michigan was very appropriate. We were totally deflated, and in need of lots of points to defuse what appeared to be a developing rout. A touchdown would have provided the mental lift as well as points that were much needed at that juncture of the game. Nobody knew until later that our quarterback would return, and that our defense would eventually tighten up.

      And I’m all for giving a guy a chance to implement things his way. But there have been some disturbing events which, if they are standard operating procedure after 25 years in coaching, they won’t get fixed now:

      1) When your opponent is trying to take the lead with less than a couple of minutes remaining, and they get a first down inside your 10, you MUST use your timeouts to stop the clock. Michigan had timeouts remaining, and was not in any remote danger of running out of time. An extra 20 seconds would have been a lifesaver – if you can imagine our improved chances with 24 seconds and a timeout with the ball on the Michigan 25 yard line – instead of a desperation endzone pass and dying with 2 timeouts remaining. The way we were moving the ball, I would have loved our chances. Is this not Coaching 101?

      2) At the end of the MSU game, the coach’s comments indicated that it didn’t matter that the play clock expired, the defense just didn’t execute. The plain fact of the matter is that it greatly mattered – had the coaches had a process in place to monitor the play clock as they should have, the play would have been negated and the odds of our winning would have increased tremendously. Apparently, it was easier to deflect the blame toward a bunch of imperfect 20 year olds battling against another bunch of the same than it was to accept responsibility for a breakdown in coaching responsibility.

      The coaching staff saying that the fake was anticipated and then seeing the results of the preparation doesn’t exactly give me a warm fuzzy. ‘We told them what to do they just didn’t do it’ won’t play for very long. And there is certainly no room for leaving points on the field due to poor preparation or just plain coaching oversights.

    42. BK temper-tantrums? What did hw say that qualifies as a temper-tantrum? What

    43. I see no difference between last year and this year excpet maybe the tackling is a little better. Red flags for me went up when 8 kids were caught with underage drinking 2 weeks before camp started. I question their judgement and committment. I am in no way surprised in the football we are seeing this year.

    44. In a newspaper article the other day, following the MSU game, Kelly said, “When you evaluate, you are evaluating the players that you have on hand. And they were playing as hard as they can play.”

      The writer’s translation:: “We’ll put as much lipstick on what we inherited on certain positions, but wait ’til next year.”

      Those comments and the writer’s interpretation are insulting, self-defeating and a disservice to the team and to Notre Dame; and, unfortunately, they are yet another mental obstacle the players have to hurdle.

      Coach Kelly inherited three or four potential All-Americans and a stable full of of high caliber players. He should be grateful and do his job, instead of looking for excuses.

      Perhaps, deep down, Kelly doesn’t want to take ownership of players/kids who aren’t ‘his’. Or, perhaps, he’s simply in over his head.

      But, I hope ultimately the players take ownership of this season, for themselves, in spite of all of this. They’re good enough to win every game on their schedule, regardless of what the coach, writers or bloggers might think.

    45. ND gagged away the Michigan and MSU games. Last year with the Bearcats, he had an uncanny ability to make the right play calls and his team had a unique abiility to make changes on the fly. This year, Kelly’s offensive play calls have been okay, but his players, who are supposed to be better, can’t execute. Michael Floyd is dropping easy catches. Crist has overthrown so many receivers it’s ridiculous. But really, it’s the D’s ineptitude that’s killing this team. No creativity whatsoever. Against Michigan, Kelly’s D gave the underneath pass the whole second half and on the crucial final series, they continued to do so instead of bringing pressure. Awful. Getting beaten by a fake FG is simply inexcusable. Not ready to write Kelly off, but he’s got to get it together quickly, or this season could be a disaster.

    46. The truth is always in the middle. Weis was a better coach than everyone gave him credit for and Kelly is not as good as we all want to believe. The real culprit in all of this is poor leadership at the top, namely the President of the University and the Athletic Director. The meer idea that we did not have a trainig table for these athletes is inexcusable.

      • I’ve read some ridiculous comments but this one is laughable. Weis went 15-21 in his last 3 reg seasons. Our talent was never developed and Bert Berry’s comments after the Blue-Gold game told you how bad of shape they were in. I defended him for 4yrs, but he was a bad coach. And to say kelly isn’t as good as we hoped? We’re THREE games in!

        Its mindboggling that people are in panic mode.

    47. The only aspect of a Weiss Redux that I am concerned about is the type of behavior exhibited by Coach Kelly in the wake of Saturday’s failure to stop the fake FG. In the post game press conference, when asked by a reporter what the protocol was for the defense communicating about the potential for a fake, Kelly went on the offensive and replied with “Did you see the fake? we had it covered our guy just slipped.”

      We saw the fake coach and guess what? the alleged anticipation of a fake was very suspect. Look at our alignment on the play, we had all but 2 players on the line in 3-4 point stances. The 2 upright players were up and standing behind the line in the middle.

      Now when you have your opponent facing a 46 yard FG attempt, which if made, will at best send the game into another overtime. When that opponent’s kicker’s record for making 40+ yard FGs is not great. Why would you not come out with an alignment that sends a clear message to your opponent that the only option you should be considering is kicking the ball to try and extend the game. Such an alignment would be where wide outs or potential receivers on end of line are, if not double teamed, at least covered the way a dback covers a receiver which is upright and not down in a 3-4 pt stance.

      Any claims that you were prepared or anticipating a fake with the defensive alignment that Kelly put out there are suspect at best. Yes, we saw the fake coach and you were not prepared for it. Just face it, don’t get short with the reporter who asked a fair question, admit that you blew it and let’s move on. We will all repsect you more for that and find it much easier to continue supporting you. I do still believe you can make our program great again.

    48. Facts are facts, this Administration and AD have no clue what to do when it is time to hire a coach. I said this when Kelly was first hired, if you believe the best coach from the laughable Big East is what it takes to return the Golden Dome to glory, expect a huge disappointing downfall. I still say a coach should be hired from the SEC. If you want to be one of the best in the country again, let’s start with trying to get a coach from the best conference in the nation. Again, REMEMBER what Florida did to this Brian Kelly offense in the bowl game earlier this year. If the Gators didn’t call off the dogs in that game it may have wound up 100-0.

      • PJ (Michigan) says:

        Um, in what conference did Nick Saban coach before going to LSU? Where was Urban Meyer before Flroda?

    49. Um, does your question matter? What is the price of tea in China today? The SEC is the best conference in America while the Big East is arguably the worst BCS football conference. I hope you, like others, are excited with the Brian Kelly hire. His ridiculous post game comments are already showing what type of coach this Administration has brought to ND.

      • PJ (Michigan) says:

        Well, if two of today’s most successful coaches were hired from conferences other than the SEC, it would seem that talent can be found outside the SEC. So your argument that we should have hired only an SEC coach is invalid. So is your criticism of Kelly for being non-SEC.

        Sometimes the best thing is to hire a man with obvious talent and ambition from a smaller program. Ara went from Miami of Ohio to Northwestern to ND. Miami of Ohio was not a monster program, and Ara’s record at Northwestern was 36-35-1. Was there anything in those two programs that portended Ara’s success at Notre Dame? Perhaps his record of 39-6-1 at Miami of Ohio. Sounds awfully similar to that of a man who coached at CMU, Grand Valley State, and Cincinnati.

        The jury is still out regarding Kelly, and he will be judged by wins and losses. There is no alternative to giving him our full support and fighting like hell to win the rest of our games.

    50. While your full article is better than the front page lead you lost me when discussing that Dayne Crist is not accurate enough, etc, to handle a Kelly offense. Factoring in that he has essentially played 2.5 games of football, and did not have the benefit of starting against Samford State Technical University in game one I think a 60% completion percentage, over 840 yards and 7 TDs v. 2 ints might lend some credence to the fact that he is good enough to execute the Kelly offense. If Floyd does not fumble the ball in the Purdue game ND skates. If Crist plays the entire Michigan game we win. MSU, had its dissappointments, but for the first time in recent memory our D actually had some stops at the end of the game showing resiliency after stinking up the place.

      3 Games…sheesh. And we could have/should have won the last two. 7 turnovers doesn’t help either.

      Maybe we should wait until half the season is played????

    51. michael martino says:

      Maybe Kelly went for 7 against MI b/c he didn’t know if he’d have Crist back for the 2nd half. Without Crist, 3 pts wasn’t going to cut it. Maybe he went for it on 4th down with 6 mins left against MI State because they were getting a certain look from MI State and it was a play that had great success in practice. Crist ran it in slow motion or he might have done better (Crist is doing great for his 3rd start). Maybe Kelly knows better than we do. He beat Pitt the last two years (’08, ’09), with way less talent that he has now, while ND lost to the same Pitt teams. I do believe many on this site want Kelly to fail, perhaps because it is easier to complain about losing than to really hope for success. Fortunately, Kelly and his players have more backbone than that. Keep watching. Go Irish!

      • Phil Russo ND '80 says:

        I could not have said it better. With Crist out in the first half of the Michigan game we were going nowhere with little momentum from a field goal. It looked like Crist had a concussion which would mean he would be out for the second half and at least another whole game. If the QB you have in is going to succeed long term, you need to put him in opportunities in which he can succeed.

        Kelly is two plays from being 3-0. This team has its weaknesses but it is improving each week. It looks tremendously different than last year’s team and any team I have seen in a long time.

    52. I read this artice after the one on the internet innuendo.
      I now undersand the defensiveness as this is extremely critical and handwringing for an early season analysis. How could it be interpreted otherwise and especially so when considered by outsiders.
      My response is that it is a 3 games into a season. He got beat by a one man wonder in Robinson who played a game for the ages and then he got beat by a call for the ages. He knows his jock strap was left on Spartan field that nite but again it happens. Keep the book open on this guy.
      Also, I dont think your point is well taken by comparing BK to Weis. Weis was both subjectively and objectively abysmal on every level. Indeed, the defensive shortcomings in the secondary now are the result of starting players (#22 especially) who are second team and practice team players. This is what Weis left BK and the weakest link gets exploited as some point over the course of a game.
      Weis never understood the full component of the game and all its facets.

    53. I am not worried at all about the 1 – 2 start. New coach, new system, new quarterback with little experience. Kelly has won everywhere he has been and Notre Dame will be no different. He has to be given time get his system in place, to recruit his guys and have them develop into his team. I would anticipate the Irish being national contenders by Kelly’s third season. Look at Stanford, this is Harbaugh’s third year. His system is in place and he has many of his own recruits. Their improvement since his arrival is astounding considering where Stanford was in the few years before Harbaugh’s arrival.

      Weis was a differenct coach. An X’s and O’s guy from the NFL that failed to develop many non-skilled position players and had no track record of success at the college level and it eventually showed itself.

    54. We’ve waited 15+ years for a savior. I can cut Kelly 1 year of slack. The team is not where it needs to be, it’s not where it’s gonna be, and thank God it’s not where it used to be!

    55. A few key points:

      When Crist was in the game against UM, ND outscored UM 24-7. Take Robinson out half the game and does UM lose at the wire?

      Think losing both staring safeties has not hurt?

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