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  • Defense Rescues Irish

    by John Vannie

    On a day when the offense was unable to sustain success through the air or on the ground, Notre Dame’s defense stood tall and held off a determined effort by Boston College in a 16-14 win. The Irish started fast but could not find the end zone after the game’s opening drive, and could not put away the Eagles until Robby Toma grabbed an onside kick with less than two minutes remaining. Unfortunately, the victory was overshadowed by the loss of stellar running back Jonas Gray to a serious knee injury just after halftime.

    Gray was around long enough to stake Notre Dame to a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest with a 26 yard run that capped an 80-yard opening drive. The heavily favored Irish appeared to be in good shape for a comfortable win when Tyler Eifert made a sensational catch on the next possession to set up a 40 yard field goal by David Ruffer. Meanwhile, Boston College could not get its offense moving, but punter Ryan Quigley did his best to keep the Irish in horrible field position with an impressive display of punting.

    The defensive strategy employed by the Eagles began to take root over the next few possessions. Notre Dame had to start from inside its own ten yard line on three consecutive series, and could not keep the chains moving against the Eagles’ umbrella defense. BC finally put together a scoring drive midway through the second quarter. Chase Rettig found Bobby Swigert and tight end Chris Pantale in the intermediate zones and backup Josh Bordner came on to finish the drive in Tim Tebow fashion to make it 10-7 with three minutes remaining in the half.

    Michael Floyd, who had ten receptions on the day, carried the Irish into scoring territory moments later with a pair of catches sandwiched by a personal foul on the Eagles. The drive stalled following a near interception thrown by Tommy Rees, and Ruffer came through from 41 yards for a 13-7 lead at intermission.

    Boston College continued its strategy of dropping eight defenders into coverage and forcing Notre Dame to patiently work its way downfield. The Irish were unable to make the Eagles pay despite an attempt to increase the tempo. Gray’s injury occurred when he was hit directly on the knee after catching a swing pass, and a Rees interception a few minutes later shifted momentum to Boston College. Fortunately for Notre Dame, the defense had an answer for every challenge as Darius Fleming, Louis Nix, Manti, Te’o, Jamoris Slaughter and Gary Gray each had key stops to frustrate the Rettig and the Eagles.

    Floyd and Robby Toma finally helped Rees put together a march midway through the final period to give the Irish some breathing room. In the key play of the sequence, Floyd caught a pass in the flat and completely reversed his field to gain 14 yards. Ruffer again drilled a short field goal when BC tightened up in the red zone, and Notre Dame pushed its lead to 16-7 with eight minutes remaining.

    After an exchange of punts, Rettig ignited a last gasp Eagle drive against the Irish prevent defense. His passes began to find their targets and a costly pass interference penalty by Notre Dame’s Zeke Motta placed the ball at the two yard line. Rettig his Swigert two plays later to close the gap to 16-14 with 1:57 left in the game. Boston College had no time outs remaining and went for an onside kick. Toma caught it cleanly and the Irish were able to hang on for the win.

    In the final analysis, the outcome was preserved by Notre Dame’s superior talent. The Irish offensive weapons and a solid defensive line were simply better than the Eagles, who lacked the playmakers to pose a serious scoring threat and the athletes to contend with the man among boys named Michael Floyd. BC’s defensive coaching staff did a superb job to throttle Notre Dame and give their team a chance to win, but the young Eagles missed several opportunities to alter their fate including a trio of dropped interceptions.

    Let’s review the answers to the pregame questions for additional insight.

    Will the Eagles be able to run the ball effectively? Not really. They managed only 85 net yards  and could not avoid third and long situations.

    Can Rees turn in another flawless passing performance? Rees was adequate at 24 for 39 and 256 yards, but was fortunate that he suffered only one interception and his receivers made a few superb plays for him.

    Will Kuechly single-handedly stuff Notre Dame’s rushing attack? The Irish ran well early but Kuechly and the Eagles held their ground in the second half with Gray on the sidelines.

    Will the Irish help the Eagles by making costly mistakes? One interception was not enough to get the anemic BC attack over the hump.

    Can the BC defense hang on into the fourth quarter? The Eagles’ defensive plan was solid and Coach Spaziani thoroughly out-coached Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, who never was able to make BC pay for its use of two and three man fronts.

    Will Robby Toma continue his exceptional play? Yes. Toma made five clutch receptions. What I can’t understand is why Eifert was thrown only one short pass after his brilliant first quarter grab for 37 yards.

    Can Rettig improve his 53% completion rate against the Irish defense? Although he put together a decent drive at the end of the game, Rettig was held to a sub-.500 rate of 18 for 38 covering only 170 yards.

    If Notre Dame wins, will they immediately petition to join the ACC? BC is already there, so no thanks.

    The Irish advance to 8-3 and finish the regular season at Stanford next week. The afternoon was disappointing in that Gray was injured and also because their narrow lead kept the Irish from getting many senior reserves onto the field. This may not be an issue against the Cardinal, but probably for an entirely different reason.


    93 Responses to “Defense Rescues Irish”

    1. “Thouroughly out-coached Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly”? Well, not really… Spaziani lost the game.

      • John Vannie says:

        Which coach had the far more talented roster with plenty of seniors in the starting lineup, making them a 24 point favorite? This game was a microcosm of our season and can be summed up in one word: underachievement.

        • Underachievement at 8-3. Hmm.

          Makes a lot of sense. I suppose you thought CW got screwed after his second consecutive 6-6 season (following his 3-9 debacle).

          There is nothing simple about coaching big-time college football. Ask Oklahoma how it felt to get beat by Baylor on Saturday night. How do you think that Oklahoma State felt after losing to Iowa State? Would you rather a loss?

          We won the game. We also beat Pitt and seemed to “rebound” after that inferior effort. And now it’s on to Palo Alto and let’s win there

      • Eduardo de la Guardia says:

        This was an ideal for a change at quarterback, with the way BC was playing defense a mobile quarterback had plenty of open field to run. I don’t understand why Kelly didn’t try to change the tempo with Hendrik. In addition, why keep running inside, it seems there was open field if we tried to run outside

      • I agree. “Thoroughly outcoached” is a bit much. I know you guys don’t like Kelly but come on.

        It’s not enough that we win the games we should, we need to win them the way you want the team to win them and in the sets that you want. I want us to blow everyone out too but it’s not going to happen – we won yesterday with 39 passes/39 runs and tough defense.

        Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Clemson lost to lesser teams this week with teams like Furman, Georgia Southern, and The Citadel giving SEC teams a game.

        How long can we insinuate that a 2 point win over Boston College (this is a microcosm of our season) is more important than blowouts over Maryland, Purdue, Air Force, Navy, and Michigan State? We’ve won 8 out of 9 games and the only game where it looked like we were the inferior team this season was against USC. Could you say that in the past 16+ years?

        We’re an above average team. We’re not a national championship contender. If you thought we were before the season started, you’re drinking the Kool-aid.

        We can be critical of the team and look for areas that need improvement without being so damn negative about it all the time. That’s all I’m saying.

        • John Vannie says:

          I have no agenda with regard to Kelly, and I wrote what I saw as I do every week. It was not an impressive performance by the offense, but I did not say that this game was more important than earlier blowout wins. That’s your spin. Again, we’re 8-3 despite being favored in every game this season. We’ve clearly failed to meet expectations, and those expectations did not include being considered a serious championship contender.

          • What were the expectations? Because honestly, each year we do the “Percent chance Notre Dame wins each game” survey here and there’s rarely a game where folks think ND has a less than 50% chance of winning. And that doesn’t just apply to this year. Feeling we should have won every game does mean you feel we should be a championship contender. This year was more of a 8-4, 9-3 likely, 11-1 at best, 7-5 at worst kind of season based on the schedule.

            And do you mean favored in the Vegas line? Don’t more people bet on Notre Dame that forces the line toward ND? Like when we were a 5 point favorite at Michigan or a 9 point favorite against USC – those were absurd lines.

            Optimism here becomes an unrealistic bar. We aren’t there yet. And I seriously think it won’t be until 2013 that we get double digit wins. And Kelly will still be the coach.

            Saying the BC game ‘is a microcosm of our season’ discounts games when we’ve looked dominant. I’d say ‘inconsistent’ is more appropriate. Almost every team has ugly games – and it takes time to minimize the number of those games in a season.

            But I don’t care how we win – just win.

            • John Vannie says:

              So, you are content with the fact that we lost to South Florida and Michigan? Congratulations.

            • We were 3-9, 7-6, 6-6 before Kelly got here. He gets a 1 year pass and then we should be undefeated or 1 loss. Anything less is unacceptable at Notre Dame. We are ND in case you forgot.

              Don’t look at the improvement on OL and DL. Look at our punt returns.

              Don’t look at the games that used to be losses that are now wins. Look at margin of victory and 2 tough losses that we should have won.

              Nothing is getting better. It’s getting worse and I will not stand idly by and watch. We are ND.

          • This teams has underachieved, they are not playing up to the level they “should” be playing at. You’re right no one expected us to be a championship contender, but we are not close to being there. I thought ND would probably lose two games, I believed Stanford would be one and we would slip up against one of the other better teams. When you look at our schedule thats a reasonable guess. Let me tell you if our schedule was tougher we could easily be finishing the season 6-6, next year will be tough. Notre Dame is not playing good football I don’t understand why its so hard for people to see.

            • Thanks for your insightful answer Vannie. I guess I won’t get an adult response to any of the points made above.

              Don’t you guys get tired of being so grouchy, closed-minded, and negative all the time?

              The tone on this board is a disease and I doubt you guys will ever be happy. The legitimate points and thoughts you guys have get lost in irrational beliefs (pitchforks for everyone!) and your unrealistic expectations. It’s become the Olbermann/Limbaugh of ND fansites. People come around to see what crazy thoughts those folks over at NDN are posting about now… You think you’re protecting the Notre Dame brand but are laughed at in circles outside of this one. On no other fansites do you see people fighting back against the moderators. How about a little self-reflection? You can be critical of a team’s mistakes without going off the deep end. You see that at places like OFD and HLS.

              You’re unable to maintain objectivity when you’ve already made up your mind. You hate Kelly but you won’t admit it.

              You guys compartmentalize those who disagree with you (in some cases get them off the site completely) because you’ve already come to the ‘correct’ conclusion – those people couldn’t possibly have valid points so they can be discounted.

              I’m disappointed this team isn’t 10-1 right now but I don’t think Kelly- or any coach within 3 years for that matter-should be fired. I did not expect the team to be in the top 40 in main offensive/defensive categories and look as dominant as they have-inconsistent as they may be-this year.

              Temper your expectations – you may live a little longer.

            • John Vannie says:

              Shane, you ignorant slut. I might temper my expectations if I attended a crappy directional school with no history or tradition. If you even made it to college, I’m sure it was that type of place with plenty of online courses so you could scratch yourself while you attended from your mother’s basement.

              As for Kelly, I have not and will not call for his ouster. He has an opportunity to succeed that will not be exhausted or realized for at least one more year. I will tell you – and I’m not alone – that I have not seen anything from him to date that leads me to believe he is capable of winning a championship.That used to be why Notre Dame played football.

    2. Not pretty but a win is a win.

    3. Will someone please explain:

      1. why our big-footed kickoff specialist and prized recruit twice kicked the ball out of bounds and gave BC excellent field position; what happened to booming it out of the endzone for a touchback?

      2. why Tommy Rees is allowed to start and continue at QB regardless of how many interceptions or near-interceptions he throws. Should have had 3-4 picks against BC instead of only one. Overthrew Floyd on a sure TD. Looks like Hendrix and Gholson will have almost no real game experience to begin next year;

      3. why our coach, who previously stated he can “manufacture offense,” witnessed and failed to counter a brilliantly executed game plan by BC’s defensive coordinator.

      4. why our defensive backs still don’t know how to turn and look for the ball.

      5. why we still don’t have a pass rush evidenced by a few more sacks and hurried throws.

      • Will someone please explain to me why some of our fans are completely incapable of enjoying a close victory after years of losing these types of games?

        • Because a victory over a team as bad as BC shouldn’t be “close”. We lost these types of games for years because of bad coaching, and we still have bad coaching.

          I’ll enjoy the wins when I feel they’re putting us on a path to a national championship. When all they’re getting us is four-loss seasons, that’s not good enough.

          • El- You hit the nail on the head. Would like to know when 2, 3 and 4 loss seasons became acceptable? NC should be goal every year with at least a BCS game. I said from the day Kelly was hired he was over his headand I will stick to that statement. And if any ND fan thinks we are getting close to the Bama’s, LSU’s etc. of the world they are badly mistaken IMO.

            • It amazes me how many ND fans are ok with mediocre play and 4-5 loss season, I’m with you Kelly was a bad hire from day one.

          • You’re implying that Kelly should have been on a path to a NC this year? Sorry, but that was just an expectation in Year 2 of Kelly’s tenure that the ND Nation fans decided to advance. We were preseason #16 without knowing exactly how far Kelly had gone with changing the losing culture that’s been in this program’s DNA for the past 15 years. Yes he has talented players…but I don’t think that simply negates the culture that’s still in evolution.

            Not all ND fans agree on how patient we should be for the Irish to return to competing for the NC. That’s a fact.

            • John Vannie says:

              I had no such expectations – that’s your disingenuous interpretation of the facts. Any rational erson understands that this team has underachieved.. A 10-2 season and a BCS bowl opportunity were in reach with our talent and the schedule we played.

      • I couldn’t agree more, similar to USC game. Kelly has been outcoached quite a few times in his young career. And I will say this again, ND will never win with Tommy Rees at QB. And when ibsay win I mean the big games and consistently. I like the kid but he simply isn’t on the same level as the leading college QB’s and likely never will be

    4. How can Kelly have not had a plan for this defense? Unless I’m crazy BC has used this defense several times over the last bunch of years and we always look terrible against it.

    5. A few observations: The defense was good (not great) against a poor offense. Continuing to smother the opposition in the third quarter is a sign of something very good, as this staff apparently is pretty good at making adjustments (or maintaining a defensive advantage) after halftime. I am reminded how important it is for the kicker to avoid the sideline on kickoffs. While our field position was mostly horrible (because of their punter), their field position was good because Brindza couldn’t keep the ball in play. Part of ND’s offensive sluggishness must be attributed to BC’s good defense, but I agree part of it is because we were out-coached. We have to be able to make their defense pay when they use a 3-man front. We will miss Floyd – he’s a very good player. I like his toughness, but I’m frustrated with the drops, and has anyone ever seen him lay out and extend himself to make a catch? It will take almost a perfect effort to stay on the field with Stanford, especially without Gray.

    6. Stanford 34, Notre Dame 10
      No passion
      No arm.

    7. A win is a win but concerns me are the same mistakes. Every week we hear the announcer say “TJ Jones has to make that block”, our complete lack of any punt return, the middle of our defense is always open, Rees continues to throw late which is why he is prone to intereceptions and why some of his receivers get popped like Jonas Gray did last night. Gray caught the ball the same time two defenders drilled him.

    8. Have to agree Kelly seemed lost. Appeared to be perfect time for Hendrix and some motion out of QB especially with Rees appearing lost. How he missed Floyd on 2nd possession is hard to believe

    9. Scranton Dave says:

      I can’t wait to hear the excuses from the Rees apologists today. He just isn’t good and we will never be a BCS team with him starting. He was lucky to not have 4 INTs in that game, 1 of which could’ve been a pick 6. He’s awful, and Kellys stubborness is stunting the growth of the offense.

    10. I’m a fan of Kelly, and I believe he has coached a team that would have gotten to 10-2 under less bizarre circumstances this year (and I believe we have 20-25 level talent, not 1-10 level talent, so 10-2 is overachieving).

      But the one thing I can’t abide, the one thing that even I as the most blissfully ignorant Kelly apologist can’t understand, is that after 2 years we still have no punt return game to speak of. It is the most bizarre showing of coaching negligence I have ever seen. Hopefully they can get this fixed in the next 12 months. Maybe if they spent 1 minute a day on it (!), they could accumulate the 365 minutes necessary to come up with a plan that most other college football teams seem competent to address.

    11. A win is a win. I would say that we won because we had better players overall, not from any coaching masterstrokes.

      Kicking on our side was poor, on theirs it was good.


      1) Last year Stanford kicked ND butt on the hallowed turf of the ‘House That Rockne Built” while their mouthy sob of a coach (doesn’t mean he’s not a good coach just means that he’s mouthy and I don’t like him) stood on the sideline and egged them on.
      2) Andrew Luck needs a good stat game against ND to bolster his Heisman credentials.
      3) This team has made major steps forward since the beginning of the year, but it still lacks a ‘turn the corner’ win.

      What better place and time to turn the corner?

      Need I say more?

    12. Kelly was badly outcoached as he had no answer for the B.C. defense. The lack of a punt return game is a disgrace.I hope that the press will ask some tough questions of him.He has alot of explaining to do,as once again we struggle aginst a team we should blow out.

    13. ARGH! It IS acceptable to complain after a win! I want us to be a championship level team again and we were simply awful in several aspects of the game. We barely beat a team we should have destroyed. A few people above my post have already beat me to the punch.

      Kelly was outcoached, or least, had a bad game plan and failed to adjust. It was clear that BC was going to continue to randomly drop 8 and sometimes 9 defenders making it tough for Rees to throw. Rees should have been picked 4 times on poor decisions or weak / late throws. The one interception was inexcusable. Anytime BC saw that it was a run, they solely concentrated on Gray or Wood. They knew, as we all do, the Rees is NEVER going to carry the ball. Even Crist was able to run bootlegs last year. All day I watched Rees handoff and then see the backside DE crash down to be in on the tackle with Rees having enough space in front of him to walk for a first down. I’m sorry Rees supporters but Hendrix’s ability to run would have been a huge game changer. When you can’t discount the QB as a ball carrier, it continues to spread defenders and creates hesitation. Instead of simply reacting and attacking, it forces defenders to think and be responsible for gaps. It’s a lot easier for Gray or Woods to get yards when the O-Line has enough guys to match up. It also allows our backs to be patient on wide runs since the backside DE isn’t forcing the issue. Case in point? Floyds amazing catch and sprint back across the field where BC overcommited and the backside was open. (BTW, check out Rees’s whiff of a block!) Yet, despite these obvious observations, Hendrix, or even Crist, was never inserted. Baffling and aggrevating.

      What about next year? At this point any playing time Hendrix gets against Stanford isn’t enough. Is Kelly hoping so ‘suprise’ Stanford by inserting him? That would be laughable. I shake my head everytime I think of Rees in control against our brutal 2012 schedule. 5 or 6 of those teams will eat him up. Assuming Crist is gone, if Rees gets hurt, we’re screwed. We’ll be talking about 2013 because we won’t be able to win with an inexperienced ‘next guy in.’ Way to plan for the future Brian…

    14. Wow!! One more game to go, which will be a giant mess and all of Charlie’s recruits are gone, good luck little red faced coach next year. I watched, I saw, I left the game shaking my head, they are that bad!!, damn. Not liking the future at all. Jackie S. you gott’s problem’s dude. And No Urban ain’t coming, he’s been here, seen it, knows it, how the program works, never will get the right players. Out!!

    15. I was going to rant, but my morning coffee has put me in a better place. My humble opinion about Rees is this: He’s an average college quarterback, lots of positives, but lets face it, he’s getting it done with the bare minimum. I’ve always believed that an offense’s attitude and toughness is personafied by the QB. Look at the Denver Broncos. When Rees struggles on a QB sneak and gets popped, that amps up the defense. When Rees has 10 yards of green grass in front of him on a key third down, but instead loses a yard and a half and then scurries out of bounds, that amps up the D, pisses off the home crowd and most likely sends mixed messages to his offensive line about what their “leader” is really made of. In turn, our offense looks soft. Kelly appears to have no choice, or he has an absolute distrust of his other QBs. We’re 8-3 and that’s more than fair. Congrats to our D for staying tough throughout the game. Go Irish.

    16. Oh, Forgot one thing, will the Irish be in the top 25 this week, polls aren’t out yet but I kind of guessing 1 2 and 3 are from the SEC. Stay far away Jackie S and BK

    17. My only hope that the we played yesterday against those bums
      was planned. Not to give Stanford anything to look at. Again, I only hope!

    18. Tommy Rees limits this offense. As Urban Meyer correctly stated during the Pitt game, he makes a team that could be great good or even average. He can’t run and it is his fault Jonas Gray got injured. He laid the ball out too far and too soft and Gray was defenseless as he strained to catch the pass. Most QBs simply hit the guy on the button with this kind of throw but not Rees. Everett Golson has so much more talent than Rees.

    19. irishhawk50 says:

      Sitting in O’Hare waiting to fly back home. Sitting at the game gave me a view of an offense that couldn’t stretch the field. BC had a short field to defend. I am a Rees supporter but understand his limitations. The game should not have been that close. ND has a way to go, a decent team but the Stanford game will tell a lot about its progress.

    20. I could never bring myself to hope a player gets hurt, but it looks like the only way we are going to get a good quarterback in the game is for Rees to get hurt. Kelly lets him make mistake after mistake but is too stubborn to put Crist or hendrix in. i feel bad for dayne. it must be horrible standing on the sidelines knowing that you have loads more talent than Rees. Is there another division 1 school that would start Rees? I don’t think so.
      It would have been so exciting to see BC use a 2 or 3 man front with Hendrix in there, especially after we lost Gray. This game had no business being close and BC should have one had they made even one of those easy picks.

    21. Excuse me but BC’s defensive coordinator is Billy McGovern and he (and not Spaziani) out-coached Kelly.

    22. I think when Kelly jumped on Rees a couple weeks ago he screwed the kids mind up, he is afraid a mistake will get him another a$$ chewing.. BK looks like the deer in the headlights.. He better get the team Jacked if he thinks he has a chance against Stanford. Stanford is beatable.. They will have to blitz Luck a couple times early in the game to make him aware that the D is here to play. Thus the O will be ready and all hell will break loose..

    23. I think you are all overshadowing the importance of Jonas Grey. Once he went out, the offense definitely began to sputter. I don’t think Cierre Wood is an every down back, he seems to get winded quite often. Also, he doesn’t block as well as Grey does (at least from what I’ve seen this year). I think Grey being out crippled our ability to keep the ground game churning. After that, it was a drop 8, 9 players in coverage clinic.

      After Grey went down and Rees began to make suspect decisions, I think it would’ve been a good time to bring in Crist. Crist is mobile and it would’ve given the BC defense something more to think about. There was zero respect for the running game. Unfortunately, Tommy Rees is a product of that because of his inability to run the ball. Dude just doesn’t have any wheels.

      I don’t think we’re underachieving, I just think that when we match up against defensively sound teams (Pitt, BC), we become almost crippled, handicapped with Rees at the helm. The way Rees operates, he’d basically have to be Tom Brady-esque to have success. And lets face it – not too many quarterbacks are really that good.

      Imo, we have to consider giving Crist and Hendrix looks next week, or the game could get really ugly really fast. Stanford has a better defense than both Pitt and BC, so mobility on the quarterback’s part is a must.

      As for the defense – we’re a bend not break defense at this point. I’m content with a defense that gives up a ton of yards and no points. That says a lot for our red zone ability.

      And yes, the punt return team needs some work, but it didn’t help we were back up in our own side of the field for a good majority of the night. That was a product of the offense’s inability to get anything going.

      Most of the work needs to happen on special teams. With the right quarterback, the offense will be fine imo. No complaints on the defensive side of the ball.

    24. Tim Wilka, on the money. Rees’ pass was so poor it put Jonas in a position of vulnerability. How many floaters and flat-out missed passes (thinking especially of the Floyd non-play in the first half – wide open for a TD because nobody covered him) do we have to see before it’s cool to say time to move to Hendrix. I thought Hendrix would have excelled, BC could drop everyone back because they knew there was no way Rees was running anywhere. And actually, Brindza should have had three kicked out of bounds, but one of the BC kick returners bailed him out. I don’t even know how to process some of this crap.

    25. Scranton Dave says:

      Vannie is right on. Yesterdays game was a huge disappointment and we have underachieved this season. USC kicked out butts, but we should be 10-1 as we gave away the other 2 games we lost. Also, a handful of games ( BC, Wake, Pitt) were much closer than they shouldve been, and the common denominator in those 3 games is our offense was limited by our QB. I really hope it’s Golson or Hendrix under center for the first game next year.

    26. At the end of the day, all that matters is who has the W and not the L.

      That said, games like these are like practice for the games that you’ll need to comptete in, and the only good team we’ve played all year is SC. The reality is, we hung with SC, almost tying it mid-way through the 3rd qtr, and then Dayne fumbled a snap at the goal line that was returned for a TD. They mentioned yesterday that Dayne may xfer for a 5th yr, to somewhere he can play, but I do not think he has the pulse to play QB at the college level. What this team needs are more competitors who make plays in the clutch.

      Let’s see who will step up against the Cardinal. The only top offense we’ve played, SC, got way too many 1st downs, the worst of which were the ones where Matt Barkley would juke a LB who was in position to make a tackle. Stanford will challenge the Irish, they are very good, but not great, and we’ll see if BK can get a signature win.

    27. Just not yet ready for prime time. It would be great to beat Stanford but I fear the Irish will be gettin’ a butt-kickin’ next Saturday.

    28. The negativity from so-called ND fans is really getting old:

      Jonas Gray-out for most of the second half.

      Harrison Smith-spent Friday night in the Infirmary with an IV.

      Tuitt-out for the whole game–sick.

      Riddick – still out.

      Lynch – still not 100%

      ND’s punt average for the game was three yards higher than BC’s.

      ND held BC to 80 yards rushing.

      ND started six possessions inside its own 12.

      BC started 6 possessions at its 40 or farther down the field.

      BC beat a team last week that beat the No. 7 team this week by 23.

      Some of you fans need to get a real grip. ND’s record over its last 15 games is now 12-3 and ND has not yet lost a game in November under Kelly. When was the last time this happened.?

      Oh, by the way Ara and Lou each had only one season when they went undefeated and untied with 25 plus more players on scholarship.

      • You hit the blarney stone with a hammer, Rock!! The whole STADIUM deflated when Jonas left the game, even I had tears in my eyes when I saw him sitting on the bench. We could be 10-1 and BC would still give us a hell of a game, just like Navy always does. Kudos to Toma, the RKG that fills the next-man-in slot with the passion and work ethic that reminds me of the real Fighting Irish. Who will be the next-man-in for Jonas Gray?

      • Two things to consider:

        First, the transitive property doesn’t work in college football. Every game is a unique occurrence not necessarily driven by the events of other games. “So-and-so beat so-and-so who did this and that” is just evaluatory legerdemain.

        Second, the facts that “ND started six possessions inside its own 2” and “BC start 6 possessions at its 40 or farther down the field” is directly attributable to the fact that our coaching staff somehow has not been able to implement something as simple as a punt return. Is it not possible that a return strategy that actually gained us yardage might have been helpful? How is it that just about every other college football team has one and we do not? Can you only teach that when no one has the flu?

      • Both Ara and Lou won national championships in their third year. Do you think BK will accomplish that in his third year (next year)? Oh, and BK’s perfect record in November will almost certainly come to and end this Saturday. No way the Irish can score with the Cardinal.

    29. Oh, BTW, say all you want about Kelly being out coached. He coached the WINNING team!!!!

    30. The only good team nD has played all year is USC? MSU is in the conference championship game and UM (only two losses) lost to MSU.

      • Have you watched any MSU or Michigan games this year other than their games vs. ND? Not exactly world-beaters

        • Objectively they’re both top 15 teams with two losses. And MSU beat a very good Wisconsin team. You don’t need to denigrate every team we play.

          What will you guys admit that Kelly is doing well? I think we’d like to see that – or do you think he’s not doing anything well?

          Running YPC
          Offensive and Defensive Line Play
          Restoring Depth in holes left by previous regime (D-line, O-line – currently working on the secondary)
          Halftime adjustments
          Strength and conditioning
          Closing out games this year (sans Michigan)

          Punt Returns (obvious) – only positive is there haven’t been any fakes run against us
          Quarterback play has stalled
          Red zone offense (improved past few games but overall disappointing)
          Turnovers (have to admit this is on coaching and the players)
          Gameday experience (depending on your opinion of jumbotron, music, uniforms, turf, etc)

          I think the only conclusion one can come to is the jury is still out but the future is definitely brighter than it was under Willingham, Davie at this point. This is about where it collapsed for Weis. MSU this year and USC, Utah last year were good solid wins. I don’t expect consistency in the first 1-2 years of a program. By year 4-5 we will know where we stand.

          Criticism is warranted in instances but we can look at positives as well.

          Barring any sort of controversy you can count on Kelly being here for at least 2 more years.

          • Of course there are things he’s going well. But “brighter than under Willingham and Davie” is an incredibly low bar, and I refuse to use it as any kind of barometer. I seek championship-level football, or an indicator we’re moving towards it at a rate that will result in us contending for a championship sometime this decade.

            I have no problem with an out jury. But the fact that something as basic as a punt return has been determined as so unfixable they’re going to wait until the spring to do it boggles my mind and makes me wonder what the ceiling is here.

    31. How would you critics of Rees rate him against the QB’s of what likely are the best two teams in the country, Alabama and LSU. Living in the deep south, I hear the same complaints about both their QBs. These teams with Rees at QB would have crushed Boston College. They continue to win even though they have mediocre QB’s (per the fans here). It took Nick Saban 4 years to change a bunch of losers into National Champs. Give Kelly a break. If the defense shows up again next week, look out Stanford.

    32. to the Kelly doubters, who should have been hired if not Kelly? Urban, stoops, gruden, saban, harbaugh don’t want to coach at ND nor do many of the other attractive options. Kelly was and is our best option. Kelly should not be to blame for the Michigan loss or the SC loss for that matter, we lost by 14, points that would have been accounted for had Crist not fumbled in the redzone and had it taken back for 6. Everyone can agree that he is our best coach since Holtz. to the Rees doubters, I agree, this team will never be BCS quality with a guy who can’t throw a pass more than 10 yards. I think his average per pass was less than 7 this game. If we had a game changer at QB we would be undefeated. Golson is the best option for this offense but he won’t be ready for a couple years so get used to Rees because he’s going to be our starter for at least 15 more games.

    33. It may be hard for some people to come to reality, but anyone who think BK is the right man for the job you must be living in the 1950s. ND is no where close to a prime time program. With talent on this team ND has barley won against average teams. Look what Lane Kiffin has done at USC they barley lost to Stanford and beat the number 4 team in the nation last night. What did ND do yesterday-the barley beat a team they were 26 pts favored to beat. BK been out-coached by South Florida, Michigan, USC even though ND won against Pitt he was out-coach with the same thing yesterday. The wins we have had Air Force, Navy Wake Forest and Maryland- sub par teams. Listen to Lou-bring in Skip-BK is a joke.

    34. Rockne, agreed. It was an ugly win but even top teams have a couple grind it out, ugly wins each season. Alabama struggled against FCS Samford this week. Florida was losing by 15 points to FCS Furman! We’ve never even played an FCS team! We had an ugly win against Pitt too, but all anyone remembers about that game now is it was a Win. Don’t get me wrong. We’re gonna have to play much better than this to hang with Stanford next week. At least offensively. But just to keep a little perspective here, a close win on senior day against a rival like BC is better anytime than a close loss on senior day to Syracuse or UConn. It’s not the time to turn on this team now. Plus we’ve finally made it into the BCS rankings this week. So something must be going right for us. Now let’s make our season one to remember and beat Stanford! Go Irish!

    35. 1) Tommy Rees holds this offense back- it’s pretty clear that ultimately BK wants someone who can run the ball AND throw, but those options are younger and unexperienced. To win RIGHT NOW, Tommy is the answer. I don’t think that an outsider can make a judgement on whether Hendrix is ready to play on the field consistently, we just haven’t seen enough of him to make that assessment. And I truly believe there has been a serious butting of heads between BK and Crist- and that’s the reason that Crist is not on the field.
      2) I know that BK is ultimately responsible for preparing these kids, but how can you make him responsible for the ridiculous turnovers in the first two games and illness that wreaked havoc on the team this last week. Those factors played large roles in the underperformance.

      Tommy Rees is bad; bla, bla bla. BK is terrible; bla, bla, bla.
      Apparently most of you have better options in mind for a QB and coach that can win… I’m hearing a lot of whining without any replacement suggestions.

    36. Scranton Dave says:

      I have an easy replacement suggestion. Crist should’ve never been benched. I’m with Vannie, anyone that doesn’t think this team underachieved is living in a dream world. The Michigan line was nor absurd. They stink, and we gave that game away to them. That game ruined the entire season for me.

    37. Scranton Dave says:

      Or not absurd.

    38. martinjordan says:

      The Stanford game will tell us all we need to know about the direction of the program.

    39. Kelly must be a great coach to be able to win while playing such an inferior quarterback as Reis or is it that Reis must be a great quarterback to be able to win playing for a team coached by that knucklehead Kelly?

    40. Rees 12-2 = .857%
      Crist – 4-6 = .400%
      Clausen 16-18 = .470%
      Quinn 29-17 = .630%
      Holiday 14-7 = .666%
      Sharpley 0-2 = .000%
      Battle 1-1 = .500%
      LoVecchio 7-3 = .700%
      Godsey 1-1 = .500%
      Dillingham 0-1 = .000%
      Jones 0-1 = .000%

      • SterlingJames says:

        You place Clausen (as a soph) behind this line and ND would be undefeated this year. Clausen was ranked in the high 30’s (passing efficiency ) his sophomore year behind a horrendous line. His junior year 4th. Ree’s will never crack the 20’s. You place Rees as the starting QB at Michigan and he’d be 3-8 (maybe). Place DR as the starter as a soph this year. ND would be undefeated.

        The system and talent around Rees inflate his record. Let’s see how he does with Stanford who will play the same D as BC but with 3 times better athletes.

    41. SterlingJames says:

      Stanford’s D will drop 7 or 8 on defense like last year and Luck will make ND’s linebackers look like DIV III starters. Thier D could drop 9 defenders and leave 20 yards open field in front of them and Rees would: 1) throw it out bounce, 2) throw an interception 3) or is so slow he wouldn’t make it to the line of scrimmage before getting tagged. Bottom line. Stanford is going to embarrase ND and the NDnation. Silverlining; this will be Rees last game as a starter (thank god ND recruited EG) along with Luck.

    42. Scranton Dave says:

      SterlingJames- Very well said on your first post. It amazes me that people still support Rees and blindly throw out his record as a starter and dont realize the team wins in spite of him and not because of him.

      • Sterling James says:

        “…his record as a starter and don’t realize the team wins in spite of him and not because of him.”

        I’m going to use it, excellent quote.

    43. i have to laugh at all the replies from the above. i’ve been a loyal supporter of nd for over 50 years & not just the football team. i did not attend nd but i have always admired & respected what this school is really all about – education. when 99% of the student athletes get degrees (#1 in the country) that really says it all. sure i want the football team to always win & sure i get pissed off at times when they screw up. even though nd has not won a national championship in over 20 years i still believe they will be a bcs contender in the years ahead & yes will win the national championship. remember nd has always been & will continue to be the #1 target for most teams they play. bc has become a great rivalry & i would not have been surprised if nd got beat. but they didn’t did they? go irish

    44. Many of you who post replies are an embarrassment to the Notre Dame community. You are not a part of ND Nation, at least as far as I am concerned. Like many of us here, I didn’t have the pleasure of attending Notre Dame. I peaked a bit late, academically, and wound my way through college and law school without having attended ND. However, I have been a loyal fan since the days of Steve Beuerlein and Alan Pinkett and the like. I’ve seen a lot of head coaches and many opponents.

      What happened last Friday night in Ames, Iowa, should remind everyone about the unpredictability of college sports. But, don’t forget the other games over the weekend: Baylor beating Oklahoma, USC smoking Oregon in Eugene (granted the score was a lot closer, but SC dominated all but a quarter of that game) and Virginia winning at Florida State. Heck, the team that BC beat last week — NCSU — smoked 8th ranked Clemson.

      Parity exists in college football. It is a fact of life.

      Now, to be sure, I wonder why Hendrix isn’t seeing more playing time. I do. I wish we had an offense with a mobile quarterback who can hit Michael Floyd in stride as he gallops into the end zone. Better yet, I wish we had a 6-foot-3-inch guy with a rifle arm who could find Toma over the middle — on time every time. Dayne Crist seemed to be that guy. But, Coach Kelly is with these guys every day. He gets paid a lot of cash to make the right decisions, including who the starting quarterback should be. We don’t.

      He is now 16-8 as a head coach, which is hardly an incredible record. But it’s good, considering where we were when he took over. And Rees, for all of his flaws is still the 22nd ranked passer in the NCAA. He’s 46th in passing efficiency, hardly dominant but in the Kirk Cousins vicinity. I know “We are ND,” but I’m pretty sure that Brian Kelly, with his 20 years of head coaching experience, can recognize whether Hendrix or Crist or the 3-star kid from South Carolina, Everett Golson, would be better (btw: the way some of you talk about EG, you would think he’s the second coming).

      As Jack suggests, above, coaching at Notre Dame is different than coaching at LSU or Arkansas or Southern Cal. Our kids all go to class. They graduate. They are expected to be upstanding members of the community — human beings first; students second and athletes third. That is what it means to be ND — to win as a team and to lose as a team. Now, certainly Stanford seems to be much better at this stage. But, you play the games on the field, not on the blogs. And this weekend, despite being a beat up and struggling with the flu, the “fans” should get on board. Or they should go somewhere else.

      • So what happens if we get rolled on Saturday? Will the “fans” who were concerned about that still have to go somewhere else?

      • Let’s take a look at Ames, Iowa and Waco, Texas. Is there any evidence that you’ve seen which makes you think that this Irish team could have pulled off the upsets that Iowa State and/or Baylor did? The only ranked team ND has beaten this year is Michigan State, and they are not even close to being in the class of OSU or OU. And as far as our kids going to class and graduating, that’s terrific. But personally, if getting more talent into ND meant the grad rate took a little hit, or that some of our upstanding young men wound up on the police blotter a few more times, wouldn’t bother me a bit. Those are the kinds of kids you have to take a chance on if you want to play big-time college football these days. When ND figures that out, more wins will follow.

        • Find Baton Rouge. Go down there and cheer for the Tigers because that is what they do. Or head over the Gainesville, FLorida and root for Will and the Gators.

          But Notre Dame admits the kids who can graduate. And that means, it admits students who have high academic credentials — at least high enough that they can graduate. Sure, football players get a bit of a break compared to the at-large applicants. But they have to be able to perform academically in that competitive environment. I suspect, actually, that Stanford is the same way. It can be done — winning and caring about the kids enough to see to it that they leave with a college degree.

          • Let’s see how much winning Stanford does after Luck leaves The Farm. Remember some of the teams the Cardinal put on the field BL (Before Luck)? A lot of mediocrity surrounding a couple of good years every now and then. Sounds a lot like ND the past 15 or so years. All I’m saying is, unless ND starts taking chances on kids on the academic margins, like a Tony Rice, Chris Zorich, George Williams, etc., the Irish will be an 8-4, 9-3 or, if everything falls into place, a 10-2 football team.

            • And you don’t think they “take chances” on kids on the team today? It’s a myth. There are a lot of kids on our team who would likely not get into Notre Dame today if they didn’t play football. Now, we have no idea which kids would likely not have gotten in but we can guess.

              The problem isn’t the academic qualifications for getting into the school; it’s the requirements once they’re there. Kids are choosing to go somewhere else — to LSU or to Alabama or to Oregon or to SC. Kids know that at Notre Dame, they’re going to have to go to class. It’s not Animal House — with strippers every night (a la Tennessee) or free mansions to “rent” (see Reggie Bush). And a lot of college kids want Animal House.

              In addition, many want an “easy” ride to the NFL. They know if they’re in the SEC, which is a conference that’s won like the last five or six NCs, they will get noticed. If they’re at ND, they could go 8-4 or 7-5 and get a degree but not a trip to the NFL (this, of course, is completely ridiculous because if they’re NFL caliber, they will see plenty of time no matter where they wind up: who wouldn’t want another Manti Teo at linebacker?).

              The TE recruit that just visited over the weekend — McNamara, I think his name was — illustrates the challenge. He said he’d consider ND of Eifert turned pro because he wants to see playing time early. Nuts. If he is a great TE, he will see playing time, and a lot of it, regardless of whether Eifert leaves a year early.

    45. Yea for Jack! Again- everyone agrees that Rees is not Kelly’s prototype quarterback. But he’s the best for right now. I’m sorry, but even if you’ve been following football as a ND fan for a million years, you’re just not going to have the ability to assess the quarterback talent that BK has on a day to day basis. Are you at practice or the locker room? Nope. So stop trying to put in another quarterback!!! Kelly will get his prototypical quarterback in when one of the younger guys gets it.

    46. Hey El kabong, it’s not going to be our NC year! I’m hoping for a win against Stanford too, but I think Kelly gets more than 2 season to sort this out, right? Let Kelly have a couple more recruiting classes and develop his quarterback before you get too anxious. If he tanks next year like the way Weis ended then you have every right to be upset.

    47. Scranton Dave says:

      I will repeat for the, at least 15th time. We all saw Dayne Crist last year did we not? I dont think Rees has played this year as well as Crist played LAST YEAR. You dont think Crist wouldve improved in year 2 of the spread offense after transitioning from a Pro Style offense? I still maintain that Kelly yanked Crist after one half, as a kneejerk reaction to a bad first half by everyone in the USF game. If he ever put Crist back in for Rees ( like he shouldve in the Pitt game) that would be admitting he was wrong for pulling Crist in the first place and his ego wont let him do that. Does anyone notice how Kelly goes out of his way to make excuses for Rees? He doesnt do that for anyone else on the team.

    48. Scranton Dave says:

      When you consider that this is the best OLine we have had in many many years, and that we have one of the top 5 WRs in the country, 1 of the top 5 TEs in the country, and before the Gray injury, an excellent 2 pronged running attack, I would say being 46th in the country in passing efficiency with all that help around him is terrible, in addition to the fact that Rees cant run.

      • SterlingJames says:

        46th in passing efficiency (if correct) is what’s going to hurt ND against Stanford not including his immobility. Rees would be faster riding an electric cart than trying to run. He doesn’t have the arm to fit it into small windows and Stanford is going to force ND into 3rd and longs. I’m not a big fan of Crist either but I’d play a Rees/Crist combo. Rees on first down and if ND doesn’t gain 6+ yards on that play, I’d replace Rees with Crist for 2 and 3rd down. Thoughts?

      • When you consider the injuries to both lines — offense and defense — you should understand that it’s difficult to win. With the big guy — the center, Braxton Cave — out, Golic had to substitute. He’s not nearly as adept yet. Maryland sacked us for Pete’s sake. Same is true on the defensive front with both Johnson and Tuitt struggling with injuries. SOunds like Tuitt may be out. Gray is out vs. Stanford, a significant injury because we’ve come to rely on the big fella’s tackle-breaking ability (at 225, there is a world of difference between Gray and the 195 lb speedy Wood).

        As I mentioned after SC, we are not deep. CW did a good job of landing very important players who have started for us for a few years. Floyd, Teo, Riddick, Gray, Wood are all very talented athletes. But the war is always between the lines. SC is the best we’ve seen this year, in the trenches anyway, and Stanford knocked them off. It’s going to be a tough game but it’s one I think we can win.

        But everyone has to have their best game. Everyone — especially on the line. That is where games are all won or lost that is why this whole discussion of Rees vs Crist is worthless. Certainly Clausen was the best q we had in 2007 but we still only won three games. And he still threw 7 INTs and just 7 TDs. It’s all won and lost between the lines, provided that the quarterback can handle the offense. Certainly the kid Rees has shown that he can handle the offense. He’s prone to throw untimely INTs , but for the most part, he has done a decent job.

        • Then someone must be lying, teo, becuase for the past 15 years I’ve heard our last four coaches (Davie, Willingham, Weis and now Kelly, say publicly that they wish they could go after some of the kids they aren’t getting, but were even unable to pursue them because of the ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS at ND, not the academic requirements the players would face once they got into school. And not so long ago, ND produced as many pros as other schools. If you’re happy with 7-5 and 8-4 seasons, fine. I’m not.

    49. ND has a ton of talent, but weaknesses in the fine points leads to games like this. Field position killed them as much as anything. The punting versus punt return game is awful. Rees can’t throw deep or accurately, and can’t run to put pressure on defenses. The defense played well, but couldn’t generate turnovers to flip position. It’s stuff like that, not being “out coached” that makes games closer than they should be.

    50. Scranton Dave says:

      You cant really do that James. have to play 1 or the other, and at this point, he isnt benching Rees anyway. At least with Crist, there is a slight chance he can run, and he has the arm to make defenses respect the deep pass.

    51. “Spaziani thoroughly outcoached Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly”

      At best, this assertion is debatable. At worst, this statement is outrageous considering that Notre Dame totaled over 400 yards of offense and won the game.

      I have always enjoyed the pre-game and post-game wirte ups on ndnation because they tend to be thorough and even-handed. As an ND football fan, I’m well aware of the opinions consistently espoused in Rock’s House. I hope those sentiments don’t continue to bleed into the write-ups, as they apparently did this week.

      • John Vannie says:

        Not a “sentiment”, just an observation. BC is a lousy 3-8 team with no difference makers at the skill positions. Even so, Spaz got his 24 point underdogs perilously close to pulling off an upset. I’d settle for a similar performance by Kelly this week against Stanford, although a win would be better.

    52. “A win is a win” doesn’t count for votes unless everyone in the polls ahead of you loses. The team is very inconsistent against average to below average teams, i.e. USF, Pitt and BC. Blowouts against the service academies don’t bring much value. I’m beginning to think the MSU game was a fluke. We’ll see as I predict MSU will lose the Big Ten championship as well as their bowl game.