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  • Noles Edge Error-Prone Irish

    by John Vannie

    Notre Dame continued its all too familiar pattern of finding a way to lose a game it seemingly had under control, dropping an 18-14 decision to the Florida State Seminoles in the Champs Sports Bowl. The Irish led 14-0 early in the third period, but could not sustain a fine defensive effort and squandered several scoring chances when it mattered most. Turnovers once again spelled doom for Notre Dame, and both Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix threw costly fourth quarter interceptions.

    The Irish sent their fans on a roller coaster ride at the outset before the game settled into a defensive battle. A 41-yard punt return (yes, it’s permissable to return a punt in college football) by Michael Floyd set up an opening drive that reached the FSU four yard line before Rees threw an interception in the end zone. The Seminoles took over and immediately coughed up the football as Manti Te’o forced a fumble that safety Zeke Motta scooped up and returned for a 29-yard touchdown.

    These seven points turned out to be the only scoring in the first half. The Notre Dame defense repeatedly blitzed FSU quarterback E. J. Manuel and held the Noles to 18 yards of total offense before intermission. Menawhile, neither Rees nor Hendrix had much success against the Florida State defense. A missed field goal by David Ruffer and a certain touchdown pass that was dropped by Floyd prevented the Irish from building a safe lead.

    George Atkinson opened the third quarter for Notre Dame with a long kickoff return, and a personal foul on the Noles helped the Irish get into the red zone. Hendrix rushed three times to get inside the five, and Rees came on to throw a fade to Floyd for a score. The ball probably should have been intercepted, but Floyd took it away from the defensive back and was able to secure it after a brief juggling act.

    Lamarcus Joyner retaliated with a 77-yard kickoff return for Florida State for its best field position of the night. The Noles could not manage a first down, but Dustin Hopkins kicked a 42 yard field goal to make it a 14-3 ballgame at the nine minute mark of the period. Notre Dame appeared to be in good shape at this point, as the defense was still playing well and the Seminoles had lost their two starting cornerbacks to injury. Unfortunately for the Irish, Floyd went out of the game shortly thereafter with an undisclosed injury and did not return.

    After pinning Florida State deep in its own territory with time running short in the third quarter, Notre Dame’s defense suddenly became conservative. The Noles were starting four freshman on the offensive line and could not handle the Irish pressure, but coaches Brian Kelly and Bob Diaco opted for a three man rush and soft zone coverage. The strategy backfired as FSU’s speedy receivers found open spaces and Manuel suddenly had time to get them the ball. The Noles scored their first touchdown on the opening play of the fourth quarter to make it 14-9 when Manuel hit Bert Reed from 18 yards out.

    A failed two point conversion kept Notre Dame in control, but the Irish relinquished the advantage on the next series when Hendrix forced a pass right into the hands of Seminole linebacker Nigel Bradham. Starting at the Irish 18, it took Manuel only two plays to fire the go-ahead scoring pass to Rashad Greene. In a mere two minutes, Notre Dame lost control of a game it had in hand for three quarters. There was time to make amends, however, as the FSU lead was just a single point after another failed two point conversion attempt.

    Rees hit Tyler Eifert near midfield on the ensuing drive, but the Seminoles sacked him on the next series to end the threat. Manuel was again able to stand tall in the pocket, and he used the time to launch a 42-yard bomb to Greene. This set up a short field goal by Hopkins to stretch FSU’s advantage to 18-14 with 8:05 remaining.

    Notre Dame reached midfield again before stalling. This time, Ben Turk punted the ball to the Seminole one yard line and Irish fans prayed for a defensive stop. Manuel misfired on third down and punter Shawn Powell got off a poor boot that rolled dead on his own 43 yard line. A facemask penalty during the punt gave Notre Dame another 15 yards, so the Irish took over at the Seminole 28 with four minutes remaining.

    After earning a first down at the FSU 18, Notre Dame was penalized for holding. Rees went for broke on the next play and his heave into double coverage was picked off in the end zone by Terrance Brooks. The Noles effectively ran out all but 13 seconds of the clock on the next series, and the Irish could manage only a few Hail Marys that went unanswered.

    The loss dropped Notre Dame to 8-5, which is the same result that Kelly delivered in his first season. Two season-ending losses and numerous unforced errors leave a much more sour taste in 2011 though, and the lack of a reliable quarterback is the most urgent problem facing the coaching staff this offseason. Replacing Floyd and possibly Eifert will also be difficult given the lack of playmakers on the current roster.

    Let’s review the answers to our pregame questions:

    Which offensive line will best be able to protect the passer? The Irish protected well except when Rees held the ball too long, and the defense made life miserable for Manuel until they inexplicably backed off. 

    Can either team generate over 100 yards in the running game? Notre Dame gained 122 yards but netted out at 95 when sack yardage was subtracted. The Noles finished with a net of only 42 yards.

    Which team will overcome the effects of the long layoff and avoid costly mistakes? The Noles handed seven points to Notre Dame in the early going, but it was the Irish who made all the errors from that point forward.

    Can either Irish quarterback have success against the formidable FSU defense? Not really. A few good throws did not translate into sustained drives, and the best pass of the night was dropped by Floyd.

    Which special teams will have the most influence on the outcome? The Irish were better in the punting game and FSU had a slight edge on kickoffs. The edge to the Noles is based on Hopkins’ two field goals and Ruffer’s miss.

    Will Michael Floyd be able to get open against the Seminole secondary? Xavier Rhodes did a good job on Floyd before suffering a sprained knee in the third quarter. Floyd did bail out Rees for Notre Dame’s only offensive touchdown, but was not on the field later when the Irish tried to come from behind.

    Are the Seminole War Chant and Tomahawk Chop more obnoxious than USC’s “Conquest”? The Noles were pretty quiet for the first 45 minutes, but they made up for it with incessant chants once their team woke up.

    In the final analysis, the season ended as it started. Turnovers, ineffective offensive and defensive strategies, seemingly random  substitutions and shuffling at quarterback, uneven special teams play and late defensive collapes. The pattern has become so familiar that Irish fans had just better get used to it.

    119 Responses to “Noles Edge Error-Prone Irish”

    1. Scranton Dave says:

      I know I sound like a broken record, and I actually feel bad for Rees because if I were him I would want to play too. Rees is not the answer, and Hendrix and Golson need to get 100 % of the reps in the spring and the summer next year. Rees is a sunk cost and any practice reps he gets are just a waste of everyones time.

      I agree that it was baffling that the defense backed off in the 2nd half. Unreal, how the coaching staff on both sides of the ball just made mistake after mistake this year. I guess Diaco didnt learn from the Michigan game as tonight was pretty close to the same thing.

      What a disappointing season. I only hope the coaches learned from their mistakes and things get better next year.

      • Agree, there were two reasons for the loss. Brian Kelly and Diaco, they should have been name co-MVP for FSU. What happened with the aggressive attacking defense of the first half after halftime? Why sticking with Rees who looks more insecure with every snap?

      • Maybe KELLY should take the blame for some of his play calling. 1st and goal at the six and he calls a pass after they run it down their throats to get there and knowing they have had 5 turnovers this season in the red zone. I feel bad or Rees when Kelly is chewing him out for it. Maybe Kelly needs chewed out. Same with Hendricks when he had 3rd and 1 and Kelly calls a pass. Give me a break, why risk it. Kelly needs to be taken behind the woodshed and have a talking to for his low class demeanor on the sidelines. Take a look in the mirror and see who really screwed up.

        • jonnyjumpinIrish says:

          @ Steve….thank you for posting it. I’ve been reading comments all over various articles and no one has really said this…I was so p*ssed off last night I couldn’t bring myself to post.

          So exactly, we have 2 X 1,000 yard rushers, a veteran O line and 19 yards to go and 3:00 minutes to burn and we throw a post route into double coverage? You know damn well Kelly called that play. That was stupid, its a highschool coaching mistake.

          Thanks Steve for calling out kelly on this, in my opinion, we had the talent, experience and schedule for 11 wins this season, just not the coaching….and I like kelly, just concerned about his decisions and the blame game (and of course the media comments about “my players”)

          woodshed time is due!

          • So, the post route was the ONLY route run on that play? How about the two open men running the intermediate routes on the same play that REES FAILED TO RECOGNIZE while he was attempting to play hero? Not only was the reciever double-covered, but it was Goodman. If it was Floyd, then I could see him throwing the pass and putting it where only Floyd could jump for it, but throwing the pass to a double-covered John Goodman? What is Goodman going to do other than look the ball into his hands and hope he makes the catch?

    2. I think the young guys care. With the exception of Slaughter, Cave and Kapron Lewis-Moore — let’s go with new blood.

    3. Well let’s see:

      1.) Defense played great! As usual!
      2.) Reese proved to be an ineffective leader and QB AGAIN!
      3.) The two QB system stinks!
      4.) What is going on with the play calling?
      5.) MUST establish the run! Everytime we do, we go away from it!
      6.) Michael Floyd AGAIN a nonexistent big time play in big games!
      7.) Not using the talent on the team to be successful, AGAIN!

      • “Get used to it” was what we heard after the Tulsa debacle. Right now ND is a turnover machine; the new usual is a repetitive againness of fumbles and pickoffs. Where do things go? It starts with the coaching. We don’t need to do much soul searching to correct the bone head strategic mistakes that cause us to throw away red zone opportunities; watch any Holtz coached team on tape. More importantly we need to resolve this QB nonsense in spring practice with an absolutely clear heirarchy of expectation and responsibility.
        On the plus I positively enjoyed the good work of the defensive line and the backers.
        I don’t partcularly care for Kelly ball but as long as the recruits and the players keep buying in I am on board — for now.

      • I would disagree with the defense playing great again. They had a stellar first half, but played poorly in the 2nd. I don’t know if the defense itself is to blame or if we should point to Bob Diaco for inexplicably changing his strategy at halftime. FSU’s offense woke up only after we stopped blitzing. Lou Holtz even pointed this out in the post-game review.

        Also, the 2 QB system proved quite effective when we didn’t turn over the ball – on the only scoring drive of the night we effectively used Hendrix to get within striking distance and then used Rees to on a corner fade. It only stunk when both QB’s threw interceptions at costly moments. Kelly had neither QB mentally prepared for the game.

        Completely agree with the ineffectiveness of Floyd. He could’ve made a game-changing catch but dropped it. I was frankly surprised at the amount of effort he exhibited wrestling the ball away from FSU in the end zone and his ability to stay with the bobble. He’s disappointed all season, primarily due to lack of effort.

        • another tim says:

          About your comment about the FSU offense “waking up” in the second half after “we stopped blitzing”, I feel like the FSU offense started resorting to more screens, and were adjusting well to ND’s defensive schemes after halftime, so the ND defense didn’t blitz as much after being burned on several screens.

        • The defense shut out Florida State in the first half, something that hasn’t been done to them in like 25 games or something. It was a great feat. In the second half, they still only gave up 18 points — three of which came largely because of a long return. Florida State isn’t that strong offensively, but they’re pretty good, averaging 31 points per game. When we called off the dogs, the game changed. Bad decision.

    4. 9.) Making an AWFUL team look better than they are!
      10.) Do not want to hear about the poor players, give BK a chance!
      Other top programs with the same type of players and coaching
      Staff do not have these types of problems, struggles, and frustrations!

    5. Dome Dome on the Range says:

      I didn’t see or tape the game thank God, but from the sounds of things, I didn’t need to. This sorry lot produced another game similar to their many losses this year. Everyone knew coming out of the Stanford game that Rees was the weakest of weak sauce, yet Kelly insisted on giving him the lion’s share of snaps in this game, much to the delight of Noles’ nation. Rees continually throws into double coverage and simply doesn’t have the read skills to play at this level. Ruffer coming up short in a big game is likewise hardly surprising. All of this would be discouraging enough, but the truly worst part is Diaco once again going to a three-man rush, eight cover, soft zone scheme and giving the Noles new life. Diaco did the same thing against Stanford when pressure was working and it likewise failed miserably. Like Rees, Diaco simply doesn’t have the chops at this level. But for Kelly’s inexplicably excellent recruiting, I’d be inclined to turn the page because thus far, he’s given every indication he’d be a ready fill-in for not-ready -for-prime-time players and his undefeated season at Cincinnati was simply smoke and mirrors.

      • Those are some awful strong opinions for someone who didn’t even watch the game. Defenses get tired when the offense can’t give them a rest hence the steady fade down the stretch. Kelly is a good coach and the program is in a much better place and direction than it was before he got here. The only thing he needs to catch hell about is the inexcusable decision to keep running Rees out there. He should have stayed with or gone back to Crist. Barring that, go with Hendrix or Golson to prepare them for next year.

        • Dome Dome on the Range says:

          Well-played Brandon, but no one who has watched this team closely needed to see this game to know the singular truth that Kelly and Diaco are weak sauce. This year’s team, for all it’s talent: (1) failed miserably in the red zone; (2) was plagued by really really bad TO’s in key sitches, most of which were similar to the sorts of things you see on Friday nights, not Saturdays – think about it; (3) was plagued by Kelly’s inexplicable abandonment of the run – when it was working – in each of the Irish’s losses; (4) inexplicably abandoned pressuring the QB in key games when it was clearly working; and (5) generally displayed an incredibly low football IQ. Everyone this side of Rees’ parents knew from the Stanford game the kid was way over his head and the future was Hendrix, Golston or Kiel (who decided against going to ND because he knew he wouldn’t be coached up). The article to which we are all responding says it all. This game was deja vu … all over again.

    6. Your final analysis says it all except that its just Maddening!!!

    7. “The pattern has become so familiar that Irish fans had just better get used to it.” Pretty much sums it up. All you can say for ND is they held Floyd out of the game at the end. God speed Michael!

    8. It’s really sad; this seams in so many ways like a lost, wasted season any time there is so much perceived potential not realized.

      Yet, I wish nothing but the best for the future to our graduating seniors who each have made the best 40 year decision they could have ever made.


    9. Why Notre Dame stopped blitzing and gave Manual time to throw befuddles me; why stop what was winning you the game and change the defense? That’s about as stupid as Mike Brey letting Fl. State shoot wide open 3 pointers last year.

      • Dome Dome on the Range says:

        Diaco stopped blitzing and Kelly stopped rushing, despite the fact both were working, because both are devotees of the Gerry Faust book on coaching … if isn’t broken, break it.

      • DL Stafford says:

        A large reason for not blitzing as much as the game wore on was – even when FSU didn’t score, when the defensive linemen are as big and relatively slow as some appear to be, fatique sets in after chasing runners and a quick QB – and – BTW – there was plenty of blitzing in the second half – it just wasn’t as effective – EJ Manuel and Rashad Green and others got hot – Game Over – Speed always trumps size – and a two headed QB just doesn’t get it done!! ND – New coach – same issues!!

        • Two of the most effective blitzers were Te’o and Slaughter. Were they fatigued?

        • Dome Dome on the Range says:

          OMG … fatigued? Really? These kids are 18-21 year olds. They don’t know the meaning of the word. And the idea of going to a 3-man rush with a soft zone as the fallback position is ridiculous. Why not just have all the defenders pray and say, in unison, right after the pass, “miss it!”

    10. martinjordan says:

      This game and this season were huge steps backward. This was a BCS team and Kelly mismanaged it from the the Quarterback situation, to fixing mistakes, to loosing the locker room after the USC game, to the offense sputtering in the last three games.

    11. Larry Delaney '60 says:

      Turnovers have plagued this team all year.

      The defense finally played a very good game.

      There is hope for 2012, but we play a very difficult schedule.

      Happy New Year! GO IRISH!

      • Next year? Are you kidding? Who will they beat without Floyd and Eiefert?

        Navy (IRE) W
        PURDUE Maybe
        Michigan State L
        MICHIGAN L
        Miami (Chi) Maybe
        STANFORD L
        BYU L
        Oklahoma Crushing L
        Boston College W
        Southern Cal Huge L

        So four wins, six losses, and two “maybes.” Let’s give them the “maybes” and you’re 6-6, sliding into oblivion.

    12. Next year’s team will be 5/8 BK. Neither Hendrix nor Rees is the answer at QB, as this game showed. They both have technical skills but they don’t have what ALL of us (and Kelly) are looking for at the position – the ability to make the players around them play better. Rees has had 2 seasons to show it, Hendrix 1, and neither has shown it, aka IT. That leaves Golson. Given that he is the 1st 100% BK recruit at QB, ran the scout team well enough to win an award and has been spending the last year gaining weight and watching – I look for him as the starter in September.

      Remember the stink about BK’s complaining about the CW recruits that leaked into the press – these guys don’t strike me as tough enough.

    13. Hey – they were perfectly thrown interceptions right to the wrong guys.

    14. Good recap. As lifelong fan, I make a few observations:
      1. Is this team getting better? It appears that the defense is improving, but the offense is not. The big plays given up by the secondary were perfect passes and receptions by FSU. Special teams appear to be the same despite some bright spots in the kicking and return game. Rees is not the answer, turnovers abound. As mentioned in the article, rather than expecting and capturing a win, they find ways to lose. Remember the Lou Holtz era? We expected to win every game; even being down a touchdown going in to the 4th quarter! That ethos has long since departed and until it returns we will continue having these conversations on a yearly basis.
      2. Glad Te’o is staying. He is the anchor point in the defense. Eifert needs to stay as well. He would benefit from another year of development. Great hands and yards after catch, but his blocking abilities are subpar for the NFL.
      3. Kelly and staff have yet to win a big game. They have failed to develop the toughness of the Irish as denoted by 4th quarter melt downs. There were opportunies to establish signature victories this year, especially against Stanford. Unfortunatley, they either look unprepared in those games or blow it late.
      4. The Irish remain a mediocre team that has not competed for a national championship (in any real sense) since the early 90’s. We finish the 2011 campaign as not even being mentioned in the top 25 teams in the country! If they were in the SEC or other major conferences, they would be perennial 6 and 6. We all know the probable outcome of playing opponents like LSU, Alabama, USC or Stanford.

      See ya next year.

      • I completely agree.

        Once again I conclude a season stating the obvious: Kelly et al are not capable of coaching teams that must compete at the level of the LSU’s, Alabama’s, USC’s, Michigan, Oregon and the other truly elite teams in the FBS.

        Until this team stops looking like a Chinese fire drill in every game, even those they happen to win, they will never be a contending force in the FBS. They have yet to play a game in which they are truly dominant. They have yet to play a game that is not filled with mistakes, poor play, and a general sense of sloppiness and confusion.

        Perhaps they should just admit they are content to be mediocre and downgrade the program to the FCS. They might be able to contend at that level with the current coaching staff.

        After 40 years of being a devout fan of the Irish I have reached a point of indifference. This will be my last public comment about the team, at least until they decide their goal is excellence, instead of mediocrity, or I die – from what I’ve seen over the past 10 years the latter will probably occur first.

        I am deleting all links to all things the involve Notre Dame, relegating my class ring to the back end of a storage drawer, and boxing up and storing all my ND memorabilia like championship mugs, posters, varsity blankets, etc. I will no longer encourage my grandchildren (and others) to attend the University nor will I provide any financial support (including the Chair I was planning to endow).

        I will not support any organization that is so obviously dedicated to being mediocre.

    15. I wish I had good news for you ND fans, but without Floyd and Eifert next year, you will be a 6-6 team. FSUs offense was horrible and you defense was only average. Your QB situation is dire (and don’t fool yourselves, it is not going to get better next year). However, If you can upset USC next year, i would consider your season a success.

      • Dome Dome on the Range says:

        Earth to Roamer – Eifert IS coming back … but I agree 6-6 is the 2012 ceiling. Sad.

    16. Bill Minick says:

      Starting to lose faith in Kelly. His QB “management” is terrible. How can he expect Hendrix to find any rhythm giving him only 3 series all night? Rees seems like a great kid but if neither Hendrix or Golson are QB1 next year, I am just not watching.

    17. Kevin Pezzano says:

      I watched the game and one thing that has bothered me all year is they way Kelly screams at his players. They know they screwed up throwing an interception or fumbling the ball. Does yelling at them like a mad man really help!!!!

      I agree with Dome Dome it is time to turn the page and get a real coach in there. Too many years have we gone with the next hot thing and we do not have a thing to show for it.

      A new coach and some decent recruiting would be a definite improvement!!!

      • Agreed, Kevin. Having coached and mentored young men (mostly in baseball), yelling rarely does anything other than discourage. Kelly is demoraling the kids by his maniacal rants. Rees is done after this last mess and the mounting trauma. But make no mistake, Kelly is staying put! They are on the hook for Charlie’s debacle (million$) and have huge $ invested in Kelly’s contract. They are stuck once again. I believe that this past season (culminating with last night’s melt down) is worse that most commentators think.

      • Have you seen Bob Stoops, Bo Pellini or Nick Saban on the sidelines? They yell and scream at their players just as much, if not more so, than Kelly. Are you suggesting their players are more mentally tough than the Irish players? As former Boise St. and Colorado coach Dan (forget his last name) said, “This is Division I football!!”

    18. rational fan says:

      Kelly’s QB ‘development’ is a joke. Crist’s career was ruined and Rees digressed as the year went on….. How is screaming in the face of your QB every game working out for you Brian Kelly?

    19. Sorry.. way to dissapointed to vent. Diaco.. Kelly… C’MON MAN !! My wife asked me why we quit blitzing. Why did we change QB when the other one was doing good. Thats sad. If Golson is not under center from start to finish barring injury.. Jack and John better give CBK his walking papers !!

      • Guys have you forgotten the Weis years, the Willingham years, the Davie years. 8-5 is a disappointment but still an improvement.

        The problems tonight weren’t about coaching in my opinion. It was about players making plays. Ruffer misses an easy one, Floyd drops a game changing touchdown, Motta drops an interception, Slaughter drops an interception. Heck we need two tries to do the hook and ladder because Goodman drops the first one. If any of these players makes the play it could have been an entirely different outcome.

    20. The clock is ticking for Kelly and it should be – what a disappointment he has been.

    21. I frankly just don’t see Notre Dame relevent in college football anytime in the near future. They have chosen a certain course and are staying with it. They cannot compete with the big state schools anymore. They can get good players but not the numbers of good players they need. The world has changed and they are left behind. I don’t see Notre Dame competing for a national title anytime in near future. If anyone disagrees, please do so.

      • Here Here, I second that motion.

        Until you have “the football players” and the “full-time students” and the great chasm between the jocks and the students, we will bask in 7 and 6 obscurity, any chance we can play for the commander and chief trophy?

        Last time I checked, Orlando Pace was a jock and bad student, and turned out to be a charitable and upstanding NFL employee and good human being to boot.

        Our lady doesnt understand that some people just need some multiple choice and not dissertations to qualify as a degree.

        And you’re delusional if you think 80 watered down degrees every four years does anything to the quality of the degrees already oustanding and conferred.

        Ask Kelly about the difference in demands on his ND players compared to Cincy’s.

    22. I think this falls on Swarbrick too. This was his first big hire as an AD. Kelly was this years new flavor when he was hired. ND administration needs to make a decision which way they want to go with the landscape of college football changing rapidly. Cincinnati is still playing well in the Big Least and so is Grand Valley St and Central Michigan. So how much of it was Brian Kelly. We seem to have had this conversation about Charlie Weis not too long ago. Have things really gotten better? I have never been a Brian Kelly fan and he has done nothing to change my opinion. He gets outcoached consistently and what really is his signature win two years in to the program? My son said it pretty well,” with Kelly we keep clubbing baby seals and we dont show up in a game that matters.” When we can beat the better teams on our schedule then we will have arrived until then lets not talk about how good a coach Kelly is and what he brings to the program. Our record this year is 1-4. Those other 7 wins were “clubbing baby seals.”

    23. I have said since the hire BK is in over his head. Same for his staff. 26 games later and waiting to be proved wrong. They do not know how to game plan or adjust during a game. They always lose to equal or slightly better opponents and sometimes inferior opponents. 16-10 after two seasons with no wins against a quality opponent (except for MSU this year) and absolutely zero progress shown since the first game he coached the Irish.
      What is more depressing is there is nothing to look forward to next year except for DL and LB play.

      Kelly has not developed a QB in two years. Has not recruited a quality running back, recievers or DB’s, and, except for Cierre, we have no quality backs or receivers returning. 13 games later and mistakes have not been eliminated and Special Teams play except for Atkinson is atrocious. Eifert will probable decide to leave as I am sure he does want to endure another frustrating season. Just look at the schedule for 2012 and it is hard to find many wins.

      I would love to see how Swarbrick grades BK after this season. Very hard for this 50+ year ND fan to keep the faith.

      R.I.P. ND Football.

    24. They started and ended the season “Not Ready for Primetime”. How many years in a row now has it been where the season ended with the mantra maybe next year? And on that note – you thought 8-5 was bad? Oh my next year will be brutal.

    25. A very familiar recipe for another disappointing defeat as the Irish again waited to lose this one … played just lousy enough to lose … very much like the Michigan game. What’s disturbing is that the team seemingly did not improve during the year … ND is making the exact same mistakes it made early in the season … both players AND coaches are to blame. We’ve seen this before under several different coaching administrations. Rees needs to become what he is … a career backup. Don’t give up on Hendrix yet … he has not been given a fair shot, but I agree he should compete with Golson for the starting job. The O-line needs to toughen up and the Irish need to get some halfbacks that are tough, strong, decisive runners … Cierre Wood does too much dancing around. And Bob Diaco … and hence Brian Kelly … need to get their heads examined … is there any presence of brain matter at all? How they could repeat the exact same mental and tactical mistakes of the Michigan game is just totally unacceptable. I’m not sure Kelly is “the guy” … and almost positive Diaco is not!

      Florida State is a decent team with quite a bit of talent. If Holtz was coaching ND yesterday, the Irish probably win handily 28-7. The talent is there to be a solid top 10-15 squad as it has been for the past 15 years (since Holtz). But ya need your coaching staff to also be Top 10-15 caliber too and Kelly & Co are not performing nearly at that level.

    26. Now that the disgust at last night’s typical collapse has abated a bit, I can only hope that deep in the recesses of Kelly’s thinking, last night was used primarily as a scrimmage, to test different defensive packages, and to get additional experience for next year for each quarterback, both of whom will probably be backups (hopefully) someday, to either Golson or Fuller or whomever comes aboard.All this at the expense of the fan. Otherwise, it was an utter exercise in futility and demoralization. Otherwise, how can one explain changing up a defensive plan that was working as well as one could ever hope for? I graduated in ’78, have been watching our games since ’66, lived next to Charlie in the dorm, and, well, it has been a tough 12years, a tough 16 years, since ’96 (Happy New Year). Last night was right up there with the worst of games in terms of embarrassment and loss of promise for the future. Let’s hope that Kelly has something up his sleeve here, is planning on rolling out some devil may care superplan unbeknownst to us next year, that Kelly is merely dealing with the hand he was given and that it takes some time to repudiate it, that this game was a smoke and mirrors endeavor, and that all will be better next year. I guess hope is eternal, but mine is wearing thin.

      • I wonder how many recruits watched the game and decided to jump ship.We had a chance to impress and stepped backward.I`m embarrsassed and frustrated watching these games.You quit blitzing because you need more men in the secondary to cover quicker receivers.The QB couldn`t step and throw with all the pressure,so we let him get comfortable and pick us apart.This year will seem like a breeze compared to next season.

        • We can only hope the recruits view this as a chance for early playing time. And next year promises to be no easier with a new QB (hopefully). I hear you and like I said, I can only hope that Kelly viewed this as a throwaway game or scrimmage to get some experience for the players. His hands are tied to a certain extent by the hand he was dealt, no pun intended, but it would all be easier to swallow if I knew he was holding back this year.

    27. i don’t mind the players being yelled at – Lou did it all the time. but, is this the same BK that coached Cinci, cent michigan and GVS? his record at those schools is fantastic. there’s no way to win DII championships and have the record he has (on any level -high school, pop warner, etc.) without 1) very good special teams and 2) minimal turnovers. he simply had to have mistake free teams in the past. it’s mind boggleing that the team is so sloppy. what is he doing differently? does anybody know if his sideline demeanor was the same?

    28. IrIsHMaDmAn says:

      The best part of this game was when highlights of the ’93 game were shown. That is the last time we won a meaningful game. There’s really nothing else to say that wasn’t said. Mistake after mistake cost us at least three wins this year, and probably countless wins going forward. But, I will continue to hopelessly support my Irish only to be let down more often than not. Good luck to all outgoing seniors and thank you for all your contributions!

    29. pretty much met my low expectations….i was only looking for element to surprise me and give me some hope for next year. defense front played well as expected, lb’s still can’t pass cover as expected, special teams inconsistent–although floyd punt return surprised–unfortunately he’s gone, offense front played well as expected, no skill players stepped up and qb play was awful, i was big proponent of BK hire, but if rees takes another snap under center i will officially move to the dark side.

    30. BRING BACK HOLTZ says:

      Once again Kelly`s ego loses a game….whenever we are moving the ball he stops the drive and changes QB only to kill any momentum we had.

    31. irishhawk50 says:

      As a life long Irish fan I am use to suffering and I even had a few curses left in me watching this game, but at the end of the year I am just sort of numb. This game sort of said it all about this year. I have not given up on the Irish as I have survived the ups and downs since a kid in the late 1950’s and I am too old and set in my ways to defect. ND can not talk about a return to glory when they are not even a top 25 team, let alone a national championship contender. I was a Rees supporter early on but this last game clearly showed he does not have the ability to lead the Irish to more than an 8-5 season. I am not overly impressed with the Irish coaching staff, but I will give them a little more time. ND just lacks something intangible that makes winners. I guess Kelly would like to put his finger on it too. Quality quarterback play is a must if ND is to rise. Let’s see what next year looks like. Hope springs eternal for long suffering ND fans.

    32. This loss was not a surprise. They are just incapable of playing good football on a consistent basis. As soon as they get a 14 point lead they immediatly give up a long kickoff return. The QB play is about as poor as I have seen for a Division 1 program. Rees does not have a great deal of talent but being yelled at all the time seems to have resulted in him losing his confidence. He just throws the ball. The Floyd touchdown was a ball thrown to the other team. The last interception – was not only thrown in double coverage it was not even close to the receiver. It was 1st down good field position there was no need to panic and just throw the ball.

    33. Why do you guys always have to look at the glass as half full…1.defensively we dominated a pretty good acc team for 3quaters…it ever occur to you morons that we stopped blitzing because the guys up front got a little tired because of lack of depth 2. We played in a bowl against a big time program with better athletes than we have and we didn’t get beat 41-14 a whole seasonwe beat the teams we were suppose to (the exception usf that was just a crazy game SH!T happens) to say that this program isn’t better off and moving in the right direction is just crazy..gone are the days of loosing to Syracuse and army ..gone are they days of getting blown out on national TV …. Nd need supporters …no one can hear the echoes anymore because they’ve been replaced with this negative Bs

      • Non trolling Nole Fan says:

        Nole fan who likes to see ND in the hunt-ND’s future is bright. If you’d had the horses, defense would’ve been able to stick to successful game plan. Kelly is addressing that in recruiting. In the meantime, more S&C – that’s the coach who should be in the hot seat. And both QBs need to spend a lot more time breaking down film.

        Also, Miami will be _terrible_ next season. Their talent is graduating and the cupboards are all but bare (caveat: Golden is a good coach.)

        This outsider’s view is that ND is definitely headed in the right direction.

        Good Luck!

    34. I agree with all that has been said.Kelly does not seems to have a humble bone in his body.I don’t think he gets it. But I agree the other guy on the hot seat has to be SWARBRICK- he hired him, he can leave when Kelly does.

    35. Joe Schaefer SJHS'55 ND'59 says:

      Two down, three to go! Who says you need to use the spread to have a quarterback who can run? Time to get a Div.I coach. This is Kelly’s first job with a high-expectations program. He has failed. Swarbrick’s “head coaching experience” criterion is unnecessary. Look at Jimbo Fisher last night. He adjusted; however, Diaco gave him the opportunity. Swarbrick needs to bite the bullet after next season. I trust there is a three year termination clause if Kelly doesn’t turn it around. Why wait? Not mentioned in the fall of the program is the BOT and the agenda of the Malloy administration (Willingham and O’Leary) together with the abysmal leadership of Wadsworth and White. The entire history of the football program since 1993 should be made a case study in the MBA program. Some issues would be, “How to kill the program and still make money?” “How management performance doesn’t matter!” “How to demotivate and be surprised with the results!”

      • We schedule the toughest schedule in 2012, and yet we don’t have the infrastructure in place to compete. We are going to war with a pea shooter instead of heavy artillery.

        Give EVERY athlete 5 years to complete 1 undergraduate degree. EVERY FBS program gives their kids 5 years to complete 1 undergraduate degree, effectively making them feel less pressured in season to get a hard degree and compete at the highest level. EVEN STANFORD FOLKS.

        I personally would rather be known as the school that releases competent football grads in 5 years and wins bowl games, instead of that school that releases competent football grads in 4 years to go play at Kansas, and loses EVERY bowl game of substance for 20 plus years.

        The case study is not in Coaching.
        The case study is in how administrative austerity kills football performance.

        Everyone is running around like a bunch of ninnies, yankee stadium, dublin, ir, toughest schedule, oh and by the way graduate with the other 1600 SAT kids on time while you do all this.

        ITS ABSURD!!!!!!

    36. Tough loss to say the least. Defensively we played well. The big pass plays we let up were mostly just athletic plays by FSU. Offensively we remain inept. All three interceptions were just terrible and again defined the game. Rees threw into triple coverage and Hendrix looked like he forgot we were the team in blue jerseys. Big drop by Floyd which was unfortunate. ground game missed Gray badly. Overall not much different from the rest of the season… which is disappointing. Offense is just too chaotic. Would have liked to see more screen plays to build momentum. Alas, there is always next year. Agree that compared to a few years back definitely a step up. Hopefully continue to build though next years schedule will be brutal. Go Irish!

    37. I Love Notre Dame football!!! But honestly Notre Dame has been left behind in college football because they fail to recognize that the better athletes in this Nation are going to colleges with lower academic standards because for the most part they can make the grades at those schools.

      Also, Notre Dame’s coaching hires over the past two decades have not been good at all!! How to find a coach who can bring in a system that caters to the strength of his players is a problem. Getting those recruits to perform at the level they need to compete is also a problem!! They have talent but the Coaches are not getting the production out of their talent and that falls on the Coaching staff!!

      • I agree with Goldenboy. ND has been left behind for multiple reasons. The strong Catholic High School feeder system that ND mined for years is not what it once was. The ND reputation to today’s athlete is ancient history. But for a couple of years, ND has not been a serious contender since the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. A young man coming out of high school today has not seen an championship caliber ND team his entire life. The coaching turnover these past twenty years has not helped the program. O’Leary, Davie, Willingham, Weis and now Kelly. They need consistency. Like it or not, Brian Kelly is the coach. Make another change at this juncture and it will only tarnish the reputation further.

        ND is a top twenty academic institution. After all, that’s its most important mission. Scholar athlete is defined by ND. The question is whether a top twenty academic program can win. If you look to Stanford, the answer is yes.

        • Stanford gives their football players 5 years to complete one degree.
          If an ND player wants a 5th year of football, they’re taking an advanced degree curriculum.

          Yes, stanford is top 20 academic institution, but they (sensibly) made allowances in areas for Football players. Half of their starters are 5th years who haven’t earned their degrees yet.

          And that my friends, is the recipe for bringing home hardware.

          You can’t install offenses and defenses against teams who do nothing but install 50 hours a week, and ND allows the 20 hours and the guys have to write papers take hard tests taught by no it all doctors. Give the ball player a course taught by a grad student for once!!!

      • Can you say Jim Harbaugh?

    38. Was at game in endzone. Both QB’s didn’t see wide-open receivers behind the defense. There were TWO LB’s with hands on the ground rushing at the end of the game- Looked like the DL was gassed at the end, too much time on the field. From the game- the linebackers all looked a step slower than FSU. Overall, how do so many people think BK will come in, and in 2 years completely reverse the course fo a decade and a half of poor program development? The athletes at FSU were faster. We have some really good athletes, and we have a lot of great kids on this team- and a lot more coming. But to have an expectation of BCS with the current team, without a skilled QB is unreasonable. Like BK, or not. But give the man a chance to get a QB in who he feels comfortable with.

    39. Who was it that said, “8 and 5 isn’t good enough for Notre Dame?”

    40. It’s amazing that anyone on this website could actually think that Bob Diaco has the authority to decide how much to blitz on defense. Kelly is a micro-manager, and I’m sure he’s the one deciding how agressive we play on defense (and on special teams too, where he long ago decided to throw up the white flag on punts and not try to return any all year long).

    41. They’ll be just fine – be patient. I think Golson will be the starter next year if Kelly can restrain himself from making a (continual) public spectacle when the kid makes a mistake.

      Both Rees and Hendrix have had 2 seasons to show that he has IT. Neither one has come close to IT. For a QB IT means making the people around you play better.


    42. les miles never lost less than 4 games at OK state. nick saban first 4 years at MSU:6-5-1;6-6;7-5;6-6.

      expecting BCS bowl caliber play out of a second year coach who inherited a team with one of the worst O lines in college football and rather weak class of 2013 is ridiculous. i don’t know if BK has changed his methods from those with which he compiled his record, or if he will be able to make it on the level we are all looking for, but i certainly give him the benefit of the doubt for another year.

      mack brown was 1-10 in both of his first 2 years at NC and 9-5 his second year at UT. pete carroll was 6-6 his first year. 11-2 the second, but he didn’t have to build both O and D lines from scratch. lou was 8-4 his 2d year, and he too had O and D lines that had at least been coached in the fundamentals. this is going to take while.

    43. Simple solution.
      President and CEO of NBC calls President of ND.
      “Hey, just so you know, you have 5 years to finish in the top 5 in the country or we are cutting your TV contract in half. Have a blessed day Father.” Hang up.
      I’d give it two years.

    44. The QB is a leader on the field. With no QB, ND has no leader. No wonder the team implodes when it
      faces a little adverstiy.

      Why is there no leader? Even if we had a strong starting QB, respect for him would be destroyed anyway by Kelly’s constant barking in his QB’s face on the sideline. Kelly doesn’t know how to promote team leadership.

      Similarly, the D. lacks a leader in both player and coach. I don’t see a “Ray Lewis type” rallying his fellow defenders. On top of that, the Def. is simply not competent at this level. He will objectively
      cost ND a couple games a year with his calls, ie Michigan, Stanford and the 2nd half last night. However, subjectively, his lack of leadership is responsible for the D’s 4th qtr breakdowns this year.

      I don’t know if Kelly is capable of fixing the problems. Most disturbing after last night’s debacle, he
      said he now had a “championship defense.” – Against a very mediocre offense, the D. played a great
      1st half. In the 2nd half, primarily due to coaching, the D. collapsed. Again, Kelly doesn’t get it.

    45. It all comes down to QB play. If Rees (or Hendrix) plays well then no one is questioning Kelly or Diaco’s calls because we’re winning. Hopefully Hendrix or Golson win the job in the Spring (one or the other – NO SHUFFLING!!!). Wow do we miss Cave and J. Gray!!! – we win easy if both of those two are in the lineup even with Rees stinking up the joint. Defense did look pretty athletic up front. Hopefully we hold onto Tee Shepard and Ronald Darby – supposedly they’re both taking other visits??? We need a faster secondary.

    46. GraceHallChapel86 says:

      I am trying to be philosophical about all this. Notre Dame has become so humanitarian about everything, perhaps it has spread into the football program. We are making thousands of fans from other schools feel great about themselves! We had Michigan and FSU on the ropes, but gave their fans something to cheer about as their respective teams came back to dramatically defeat the Irish. USC, after having their winning streak snapped last year, was assured that is was just a fluke; no need to worry, Trojan faithful! We helped Standford continue their unlikely dominance, and do I really need to mention the boost we gave SoFla and Chip Holtz? We really are the Nice Guys!

      The fact that Kelly makes us look like a bunch of Tom Fools with his incessant ravings is a consolation prize to all the others, serving as comic relief.

      Yep. ND is the feel-good team–for everyone else!

    47. Does anyone else believe there is a direct correlation between the ND team performance in crucial situations—i.e., red zone offense (we now EXPECT to turn the ball over in the red zone), the start of “big” games (the USC debacle in the 1st Q, Stanford when we started the game with TWO procedure penalties–first and 20 without snapping the ball), the 4th quarter of winnable important games (Michigan, FSU, South Florida), field goal kicking at crucial times (did ruffer suddenly become inaccurate after missing just one FG last year?), the deterioration of play at QB—-and Brian Kelly’s sideline (and presumed practice) demeanor? I have no doubt that by his sideline scowl, his all too frequent red-faced rants at the players, particularly the QBs, the apparent complete absence of any positive reinforcement or evidence of happiness or joy by the coach, Kelly puts so much pressure on those guys to perform, that they cannot do so when the game is on the line.They are not embracing the pressure situation, as great players and teams do, they are cringing from it, afraid they’ll get blasted if they “screw up”. Don’t get me wrong, a coach needs to occasionally yell at the players, (as we all knew Lou did, and I felt Weiss’s flat affect on the sidelines was equally ineffective in coaching college men), but he also has to encourage them, pat them on the butt, and share in their joy when they succeed. There are many more photos of Lou smiling broadly with his arms around a player than of him screaming at a player. With Kelly I only see scowls and screams, and when he speaks I only hear hubris and arrogance. It seems he demands perfection, yet he often fails to put his players in the best position to succeed (e.g.Crist moves the team down the field against USC then at the goal line, BK inserts Hendrix for one play, then has Crist run in again from midfield to take a snap before the play clock expires and guess what, he fumbles, and he never plays another down for ND; calling a pass play at the FSU 5 for Reese when we just ran the ball down their throats; there are too many examples of putting his players in poor situations to count, yet he holds THEM accountable for their failure) And he talks of “his guys” and the “other” guys on his team. How is this man a teacher? How can he lead these young men when he NEVER accepts responsibility for the team’s poor performance? BK may be a “good” coach who won games elsewhere, but he is certainly not a GREAT coach. ND needs a great coach to be able to overcome the obstacles that high academic and ethical standards impart on the program and to become relevant in college football again. I will be very surprised if Kelly is that guy.

    48. Notre Dame has taken a giant step backward. They did not improve as the season went on. They regressed in many areas. Everyone who has ever watched a football game realizes that Rees had no business being on the field this year. But as mentioned by others earlier, it is not his fault that the coach chose to play him. All the blame goes to Kelly who once again proved he is a terrible game day coach. Horrible coaching decisions and poor preparation are his trademark. His inability to develop players on offense is even more bothersome. For all the CW critics—please take a long look at the last two years.
      NO signature wins, poor clock management in close games, poor play calling–did you see last night that we were running the ball fine in the third quarter but then they go away from it for unknown reasons–and losses to teams we are better than on a routine basis.
      Kelly is a total disaster. Talk about an arrogant jerk!! Thanks God for CWs players on offense. why by the way did we take the pressure off on defense in the third quarter. And finally –please fire the special teams coach today dont wait. After GAs fist kick off return we were lucky to field the ball let alone get back the 15 yr line. Great work on the field goal team this year—NOT. For every punt of 45 yds there has been three punts of 33 yards. Enough please!!!

      • “Notre Dame has taken a huge step backward.” Really? Backwards from what? The awful CW/TW era? ND has made a significant step forward both in terms of recruiting and defense (especially defense). I’m happy to compare the past two years with CW’s last two years. Where would you like to start? Record? Recruiting? Defense?

        My only real complaint with Kelly this year is that he went with the least talented QB of the trio of Hendrix/Crist/Rees. My belief is that Hendrix should have been the QB from the start, but, then again, I’m not coaching practice, so i guess I’ll have to go with Kelly’s decision on this one, as his record with QBs is simply outstanding.

        Also, someone said that GVSU, Central Mich, and Cinn. were all doing just as well without Kelly. That statement is simply false. GVSU did’t make the playoffs this year (Chuck Martin is an outstanding coach), Cinn had a losing record last year, and CMU was 3-9 this year. Obviously, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts. (Also, folks have been posting that EG will be the first QB Kelly has recruited-that is simply not true, Kelly recruited Hendrix to both Cinn and ND.)

        For the first time in years, ND doesn’t go out on the field being completely outmatched by superior programs and plays well enough to win (or lose . . .) in most games. They are also beating the schools they should beat, for the most part.

        Second guessing the coach after a tough turnover tommy loss is expected, but I would suggest you get a little perspective, I don’t think too many folks would want to go back to the CW years. I think the outstanding play of the Frosh this year, especially on defense, speaks to the future. While I think Rees should have been (and initially was) a backup QB this year and question BK on that, I’m happy with the progress he has made. It will take another year or two to get the CW recruits out of the system and get (even more) BK players to fill out the system.

        I think folks forget just how bad the TW years were for ND. His regime absolutely destroyed the program. I think CW did a nice job of starting the rebuilding process, but it was painfully obvious that a college coach was needed to finish it. Based on the outstanding play I’ve seen from the BK recruits (mainly of defense) I like the progress I’m seeing here.

    49. I have a somewhat different take on many of the comments posted. First of all, yesterday’s game: more of the same that we saw this season. No real surprise. Just disappointment.

      Kelly: I believe, if I remember correctly, that most of ND Nation said that they would use “The 3-Year Rule,” before the “Final Judgement.” I am still holding that position. However, I do have a few observations:

      * 2 Years In: I think that Kelly is directly responsible for 3 or 4 losses because of poor game management/decisions. Let’s say that it’s 4. Let’s say, then, that with the right decisions, the Irish would now be 20-6 after his first two years. No matter how you want to distribute those losses over the 2 seasons, how much better would the program currently be today? Not much. Best case, we would have been ranked in the top 25, and probably would have been in better bowl games against tougher opponents. Bottom line here: this team is inferior to better, ranked opponents – no matter how you slice it.

      Those other 6 losses: they’re on the players. Missed tackles – Fumbles – Interceptions – Dropped Catches – Lousy Blocking. Players do make plays. Coaches don’t. Were all of the mistakes due to poor coaching? I don’t think so.

      * Kelly’s Sideline Demeanor: So, the guy screams and yells. So what? He’s a football coach. Oh, so “it demoralizes the poor quarterback and our players.” BS. If a player can’t play up to his potential because the “coach yelled at me!” he should pack it in, transfer or play another sport. Yes, Lou yelled. Yes, Rockne and Leahy and Ara and MANY great coaches yell! I don’t give a r*t’s *ss if Kelly yells. Don’t care. The players should listen, learn and perform. And if they can’t, then “next man in” until things get done the right way.

      * Kelly’s QB Development: Rees or Hendrix? Who should play? Why this guy or that guy? I think that – maybe – Kelly really does know what he’s doing here. I think that maybe Kelly’s biggest decision this year was to sit Golson and develop him on the prep squad because he is the right QB. Maybe he’s the guy that can really run Kelly’s offense, and Kelly made the decision to save him so that he could really learn his system, adjust to college life and get him ready for 3 or 4 solid years beginning in 2012. I think that Rees has done a nice job, for the most part. But he’s not the starting QB. As for Hendrix, he may be a very solid back-up. And that may be it. We’ll see what Kelly really has in mind next year.

      * Kelly in 2012: This will be the year that really shows us if he’s the man for the job. So many critics are saying “how tough next year will be,” and the Irish will be lucky to go 6-6. So many of those same critics said how GREAT the team would be this year. Well, surprise! Not so. But surprises work both ways, don’t they. So, don’t be so surprised if the Irish record next year is better than the first two seasons. And don’t be surprised if Kelly surprises you with a team that gets it done, when you least expect them to do so. And don’t be surprised if it’s the real beginning of Real Notre Dame Football again. (Unfortunately, many of you don’t know what real Notre Dame Football really is. Too bad. Because legends and national championships are not made from past glories and distant memories.)

      So, that’s where I am on all this. Now, if Kelly proves to be the “f***ing piece of **ap” that so many of you brilliant and articulate Game Day Posters say that he is, then I’ll let you know how I feel AFTER the 2012 season – a fair time to evaluate Brian Kelly.

      Happy and Healthy New Year!


      • GH Lyons '73 says:

        Agreed. We had a dismal season in 1972 ending in the Orange Bowl fiasco against Nebraska. We didn’t have a quarterback then. The National Championship was not long after.

    50. Agree with most comments. This game was a repeat of Michigan game, especially with receivers catching passes our DB is in position to deflect or intercept, if he would actually look at the ball instead of the helmet of the receiver. Other defensive backs do this. Ours don’t. QB play disappointing. I honestly believe they all play scared. Everyone tries hard on this team and there is a lot of talent. The coaches try hard too. This is Kelly’s dream job. He is not trying to screw it up. I think he is learning and next year might prove to be a pleasant surprise. Despite the bad losses, there is a defense and a running game taking shape – two things Kelly was never accused of having at his other stops. Diaco has the energy and smarts to be a very good coach. It was his defense that was lights out in the first half. I have been very unhappy with the coaching decisions, including benching our best QB, who didn’t have nearly the turnovers of his successor. But I also know that the ND head coach spends as much time being an ambassador for the school as a coach. Perhaps the administration needs to place fewer demands on the coaches during the season. I don’t know. Hope springs eternal and I hope for next season to bear the fruit we have all been waiting for.

    51. I don’t love Brian Kelly, but I like him a heck of a lot more than the past three losers ND has hired. He at least has real college head coaching experience, and let’s face it guys, those kind of folks are tough to find. If ND boots Kelly, who’s going to coach here? Urban Meyer had the job offered to him on a silver platter in 2005 and he rejected it. People need to get out of the mindset that all of the best coaches in the world will drop down on their knees any time the ND job opens up. Sorry, those days are over, I hate to say it. This is THE toughest head coaching job, possibly in any sport at any level. If you don’t understand why that’s the case, then you probably shouldn’t comment on here.

      This program, desperately, desperately needs continuity. They need to stick with Kelly and let him build something or else ND football will be stuck in perennial mediocrity. Honestly, come on folks, when in recent memory has anyone seen our defense play this well? I’m not saying they’re great right now, but they’re clearly headed in the right direction. In the Willingham and Weis era, the defense was just pathetic. Respectable D is something ND just hasn’t been able make happen until very recently, and that is the key. All of the Top 5 teams have Top 5 defenses (or close to). Aaron Lynch, Stephon Tuitt, and Manti Teo are those types of guys that make Top 5 defenses, they just need to keep building. The stables were empty before these guys.

      Really this team had a shot to win every single game this year. Yes, even SC and Stanford. 2 TD’s is nothing. We all became acclimated to at least one absolute massacre each year. The reason for the improvement is the D, and I have to say, Kelly. He’s a good college coach. Last year, there was only one game we had no shot at, which was surprisingly Navy. Yes, that sucked. Anyway, the overall trend is upward.

      Go ahead and comment and get pissed after losses. It’s understandable, but get behind this coach. We sort of don’t have another choice.

      If you’re going to get pissed at anyone get pissed at Monk Malloy. That guy essentially demolished the prestige of not only football, but basketball as well. I think Jenkins is at least reasonable and moving in the right direction.

      • Very well spoken.

      • Agreed.

        Kelly made a lot of mistakes this year. The first was dumping Crist, who clearly has the skills but lacks the mental tenacity — at least, he did lack the mental tenacity — to be NDs quarterback. We made a lot of other mistakes. But, he will learn what it takes to win at this level, just as he did learn what it took to win in the Big East and at other levels.

        We were a few random plays away from a ten win season. ND is no dream job for anyone. Kelly is a decent coach who deserves our support.

      • If Kelly is such a good coach, then why would he use a Bowl game as a QB tryout? There was absolutely zero game plan for the offense. It was eclectic play calling and sporadic execution. Of all the games to try the QB shuffle, Kelly uses this one and we are supposed to say that we are moving in the right direction? I am sorry but part of moving in the right direction also includes good coaching decisions and this game shows that we are not moving that way. We suffered from poor coaching under Weis and it seems that we are still suffering. I do agree that we need some continuity with the program, but Kelly needs to show improvement as well as the team on the field. Otherwise, all the talent in the world is not going to get us to where we all want to be.

    52. Weak secondary all year. Best freshman class in years. Let’s see what happens the next couple years.

    53. Kelly takes a confident QB and systematically denigrates him into a snake bit and self-doubting weak leader and the team follows his lead.

    54. So much negativity! I,too, am amazingly disappointed with this season. That said, if our players quit putting the ball on the ground or in the other team’s hands, ND has a pretty darn good team. Yes, they need better quarterback play. Someone who doesn’t”t look scared and play scared. My belief is that Golson will be that guy. Eifert is good but Koyack was rated much higher coming out of high school, so I’m not sure that losing Eifert will be that bad. The running game shows signs of life, the defense has great promise (especially if we keep the great DB recruits coming in), and depth at wide receiver will be good. Just hang onto the ball and this entire season is different. If we keep our current recruits and land Devin Fuller, this team will be a lot better next year. Be mad at the coaches and Swarbrick if you must, but they are not the ones handing the ball to the other team.

    55. Strange how Kelly can coach at the lower level and raise the level of play with less talent. He took four different QB at Cincy and turned out winners there. Here he has the rich kids and they can’t stand the pressure and react like deer in the headlights. Give me some hard nose QB’s that can react to pressure and get the job done. So far we have had none.

      • FarEastLA says:

        Andrew seemed to get the job done when given the opportunity. Against Stanford, you may have missed that his 2nd half performance largely eclipsed that of their Andrew’s whole game performance.
        Against FSU, he was moving the ball until the INT where there seemed to be a mis-understanding of the route by someone and an official (and probably a lineman or 2) obscuring the INT threat. Inexplicably, he never returned to the field, despite the miserable performance of Tommy.

        Despite Andrew obviously being the QB for a Kelly O, there has been some mental block on the part of Kelly. Crist was not the answer, but why when Rees was obviously in trouble in many games, was Crist not sent in? Rees seems to be the only QB who can commit an error without being benched???

    56. Weak secondary yes,but combat that with blitzes that worked the first half.I want to know who called off the blitzes?

      • Fenian_32 says:

        John, this is the same question I had: why did Diaco (or whoever) call off the blitz?? It was working extremely well in the first half against four true freshmen o-linemen, and then inexplicably, we backed off and only rushed three! In my mind, that changed the game, and gave FSU QB time to set up and find the open holes in our zone D. Holtz was shocked after the game.

        The deeper, more concerning question is that of recruiting and overall team talent/depth. The play-by-play guys did point out that the speed of FSU started to catch up with ND in the second half. For those out there that completely write-off the lack of overall talent/recruiting woes issue, please explain why we haven’t had an elite football team since the halycon Holtz era, where from 87′-90′, we had the #1 recruiting hauls in the nation! Also, explain why there are so few ND players in the NFL, whereas in the 90’s, almost every team had 2 ND starters.

        My theory, and that of other diehard fans, is that the administration stiffened the academic entrance requirements for Holtz circa 91′, and this a big reason why he left in 96′. Perhaps prior to the administrative move, Holtz was able to recruit more “bubble” recruits- players that did not necessarily line up with the academic standards at ND, but those that Holtz believed could succeed, with hard work, summer school etc. Tony Rice comes to mind.

        Holtz was able to build elite football teams and graduate over 95% of his football players, but can ND ever acheive both goals again?

    57. troublebrewin says:

      Kelly, on offense, is an attacking coach, the problem is his qb’s can’t currently execute. Offense pressure is in his DNA its tough to change your DNA, that being said if we don’t throw a pass in the seecond half we probably win.

      on defense the corners/db’s are not good against go routes/jump balls. period. once that is solved a top 10 defense will emerge.

    58. […] ND Nation » Noles Edge Error-Prone Irish […]

    59. The story is told of when Vince Lombardi took over in Green Bay – one day he yelled at Bart Starr in practice one too many times. Later on Starr spoke to him privately and said that he (Starr) would never get the respect of the team if Lombardi chewed him out in front of everybody. Lombardi agreed he was right and after that he put a sock in it. The results speak for themselves – 5 NFL Titles, including 2 Super Bowls.

      Lots of people, including me, have long objected to the way Kelly conducts himself on the sideline. There is talent on this squad but we’ll never get to see how good they can be unless Kelly learns to put a sock in it. I seriously believe that it it going to take a player talking right back at him – showing some backbone – before this changes. They play scared – of their coach. I’m old enough to remember when that was a common practice, but it just doesn’t work any more. Jim Harbaugh, as much as I dislike him, is a good coach. I remember last year’s game when Stanford just kicked our butts all over the field and Harbaugh was on the sideline hollering encouragement to his players the whole game.

      QB – Bees and Hendrix have both had plenty of time to absorb the system – it is not rocket science. It’s football. Each of them has had plenty of opportunity to show what he can do, and what he can’t do. Neither one of them has really shown much.

      It is worth noting that Everett Golson is the 1st QB that Kelly has recruited. He has had a year to put on weight, watch from the sidelines, get used to the speed of the game, learn the system, etc. Give him a chance. In ANY case I think that Kelly should name the starting QB after spring practice.

      There was a bit of a stink at mid-season when Kelly complained about the quality of the players he had inherited from Charlie Weis. Apologies were made, etc. and life went on. Kelly’s 1st full recruiting class will be sophomores next year, his 2nd will be next year’s freshmen. He has frequently spoken of the RKG -right kind of guy – that he wants there.

      244 days until kickoff.

      • Let’s hope Kelly gives Golson a fair shot at the starting QB position in the spring. If Rees is the QB next fall, get ready for another 8-4 or 7-5 season, Irish fans.

        • Golson is Kelly’s recruit, whereas Hendrix, Rees (and Massa) were already in the 2010 recruiting class when Kelly signed on. By September Golson will have had 2 spring practices and a whole season of standing on the sideline watching, putting on weight and learning the system.
          I don’t buy the spiel about how long it takes to “learn the system” – ND won the NC in 1966 with first year starters (Hanratty & O’Brien) at QB. Either you’ve got it or you haven’t got IT. It’s pretty obvious to me that neither Hendrix or Rees has IT.

          Happy New Year

      • FarEastLA says:

        I disagree with your assessment of Hendrix “has (not) really shown much”. One does have to have a chance. How many snaps has Hendrix had aside from the 2nd half at Standford? Few. When he has had more than 3, he has moved the ball. In for the 2nd half at Stanford, his stats largely eclipsed that of Luck’s for the entire game.
        Against FSU, he moved the ball, until the fateful INT. There appears to have been a misunderstanding of the route and a ref (and lines) was blocking his view of the INT threat. Then, with Rees failing, Hendrix never plays again?? You can see in Rees’ eyes that he still isn’t all there following the sacks he’s taken. I don’t get it.

        • I totally agree with you about Rees. I told my wife the same thing as we watched the game. You could see fear and discomfort in his eyes. When do you ever see him firing up the team on the sidelines. One of these guys HAS to step up and be a leader.

    60. Happy New year and thanks for all you do.Hopefully,Kelly will swallow his ego and get this right.

    61. Answer me this….if my sister who works as a secretary and makes roughly 30,000 a year turn to me and say…Why is Tommy Rees still in the game lol? And,Why did ND stop blitzing lol? also,Why do they have so many penalties lol? and yes,Why do they have so many turnovers all the time lol? What do you say lol???
      If she can see it….then why can’t the guys who live,eat,breath,scout,coach and run the team see it lol?
      Are you listening Diaco and Kelly?
      Its amazing how these guys with all the experience getting paid all the money CAN’T SEE WHAT MY 40 YEAR OLD SISTER CAN SEE LOL?
      Seriously,what is going on there….frustrated yet again! (not really its comical at this point lol).

      • Wow, you write lol a lot, lol. Maybe you should try and write like an adult, lol. Also, you asked us to answer a question that you never asked, lol. See your first “sentence” lol.

      • Why do you have to point out the fact your sister is a 40 year old secretary who makes 30,000? What does that have to do with anything? Are you saying that 40 year old women secretarys can’t know anything about football, or the fact she makes 30,000 she can’t know anything about football?

    62. Year 3 traditionally defines an ND coach’s tenure. There are more important things to life than the W-L record of ND. However, when ND plays well, it does put a smile on the face of alums – subway and otherwise. The talent level is improving. The coaches show they understand the game and the players are better able to perform physically (better blocking and tackling than under Weis). Perhaps there is too much “overthinking” during the game. Did our defensive philosphy in the second half change because our players were tired or because of something FSU coaches did? Or maybe the correct term is “overreacting.” Never remember Ara yelling at players so consistently after they left the field. He always seemed focused on the next play and did not have time to berate a player. Some people react well to screamers. In my experience, most don’t. When I coached youth sports the players that played best were the one’s that weren’t always looking to the sideling to see if the coaches were upset at something the player did – whether the play was successful or not. Any parent who has a kid that got yelled at by the coach after the kid made a great play (like making a basket when the coach thought the kid should pass the ball to some other more favored player) understands what I am saying. I always thought Pete Carroll, like him or not, was a coach that made his players enjoy playing for him by not demeaning them on national television. He seemed to have a smile on his face for all of his players. Players that are afraid of being criticized don’t play to win. They play to stay out of harm’s way – to not be noticed. Sometimes it seems that players that follow their “reads” and give up touchdowns are usually assured of more playing time than players that ignore the “read” and make a game changing play. If Kelly corrects his gameday approach to coaching, I think he can be a very good coach. ND is a bright spotlight to perform under. It really is different than any other place. Which is why I think we are so passionate about the place.

    63. Crist never should have lost his job. Rees is a turnover machine. Crist will thrive under Weiss and be a productive NFL QB. Rees will never make it.

      • Amen brother. Kelly sat a talented, rested and ready Crist and put a flat-footed, turnover prone kid in his place. What might have been were it not for this coach’s ego.

    64. Can someone please explain something to me? Today, a former graduate of ND in the 60’s said that Notre Dame will never again return to greatness because of certain things. The world has changed, the world of college football has changed and the powers that be at ND do not want the kind of football metality on campuses elsewhere…there. Whatever that means. Also, he said ND is now an elitist school. People are recruited from all over the world and in every state to come there and it is mostly kids with rich parents. Tuition is over $40,000 a year. And it is hard to get in. Furthermore, the kind of kids on campus today aren’t really the football kind of kids on other college campuses. The whole demographic of ND has radically changed from yesteryear and never to return again. My friend is a loyal and devoted ND fan and is greived at what we all see each week and every year now. Furthermore, he believes the Board of Trustee’s should at least explain to the faithful what they are doing and why. Not very many people that I talk too really believes Notre Dame is relevent to college football anymore and the liklihood of that prospect reversing itself seems to be in serious peril. All of us here love them and it hurts to see a once great football program seemingly thrown to the curb. It almost seems as though the university has used the notoriety of the football program to build its status as an elitist educational institution thus abandoning the very thing that made the name recognized and great all over the country and world.

      I have no idea where the future lies at Notre Dame in regards to being truly competitive in college footbally today but I don’t see championship type teams developing in South Bend any time soon. I do believe that Brian Kelly is the best of the last three coaches. And I also think we have to encourage him and stick with him. Notre Dame has some really good athletes but they just don’t have the numbers the other universities have who are competing for national championships on a regular basis.

      I would really appreciate your comments.

      • From the perspective of depth, your friend is exactly right. Notre Dame, in some years, starts players who would not even play at other top programs. There are two- and three-star recruits who find their way to the starting lineup in South Bend, not because they’ve vastly improved or anything.

        That said, compared to the other top programs, Notre Dame is a very small university with rigorous academics. Look at Alabama, Louisiana State, Oregon and Oklahoma State. These are very large universities — 40-50,000 kids — with extremely loyal followers. Academically, Notre Dame is in a different league than these other schools, which allows these other schools to compete for every kid. But this has virtually always been the case.

        To return to true relevance — destroying Southern California and winning BCS equivalents — Notre Dame has to get a lot of the right kids. We need a roster filled with guys like Manti Teo and Stephon Tuitt, a very difficult endeavor. And, the guys that come in when a Jonas Gray gets hurt have to be similar guys from a strength-competence level. We haven’t had this in a very long time. And then, of course, we need the game-coaching skills. Kelly hasn’t yet shown this. It’s no to say he won’t get it done but it will take some time.

    65. Tom Barnes says:

      Notre Dame’s Davie, Willingham, Weis, & Kelly: After Two Years Not Much Difference in their records.

      Despite all the hype about Brian Kelly, the last four Notre Dame coaches have similar records in their first two years. If we factor in the 3rd year records and make a prediction for Kelly’s record in 2012 there is almost no difference between them. Four coaches with similar mediocre results—is this progress?

      Davie 1997 7-6
      1998 9-3
      Total 16-9
      1999 5-7

      Willingham 2002 10-3
      2003 5-7
      Total 15-10
      2004 6-6

      Weis 2005 9-3
      2006 10-3
      Total 19-6
      2007 3-9

      Kelly 2010 8-5
      2011 8-5
      Total 16-10
      2012 6-6** predicted losses to Michigan, Michigan State, SC, Oklahoma and two losses from Miami, Stanford, BYU, Pittsburgh, BC, or Navy.

      Kelly’s record is slightly better than Willingham (15-10) but worse than Davie (16-9) and Weiss (19-6).

      It is the 3rd year that is supposed to make a difference for Notre Dame coaches and all we can do is make a prediction of what that will be under Kelly in 2012. With the killer schedule, unsettled quarterback, loss of Floyd, and possibly Eifert, 6-6 is a realistic prediction (see predicted losses above).

      Notre Dame fans will have to wait until 2013 to see if Kelly can end the malaise. That will make it 20 years since Notre Dame had a successful season (1993). I define a successful season as beating traditional rivals USC and Michigan and winning a BCS (or equivalent) bowl game. Twenty years is a long time.

    66. The comments of the ND ’60s graduate referenced by s reno are insightful. The ND of that era does not exist anymore. The school sought to model itself after Princeton and now it has, for all intents and purposes, become the Princeton of the midwest. You don’t see Princeton winning national championships in football. That does not mean ND won’t win anymore national championships. It means that doing so will not be as frequent as it was in the past. It also means that when it does it will have no more significance than when Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, ect. win championships. And this is not meant as a slight to those fine schools or the ND team that does win a championship.

      ND was a school of underdogs and overachievers when I attended and before then. Ara was the coach and most students had summer jobs because they needed them, not because it looked good on a resume. The students were connected to the football players more because they were like us – not simply because they lived with us in the dorms. We had all walks of life at the school – rich kids, middle class kids, poor kids, smart kids, not-so-smart kids and a racial diversity that extended beyond the football field. Most of us were trying to make it in the real world. It seems that the current students already have it made. People of my generation routinely acknowledge that they could not get into Notre Dame today. That is an over-generalization but the point is that the student population in my day reflected people trying to become successful in life – not people trying to be more successful. Top ACT scores, straight As and wealthy backgrounds were not a pre-requisite to go to ND in my era. That is not to say that the school did not have students that fit into all 3 categories back then. The school has clearly bettered itself. But with something gained there is something lost.

      The Notre Dame I attended still remembered Navy saving it from bankruptcy and only those of us who went to school there knew it. Now, ND is wealthy beyond belief (just look at the new buildings) and the story is told by the school proudly to show how loyal ND is to Navy. Notre Dame and its students were once hungry and that is what made it great. Now that it is a wealthy and prestigeous top 20 University, the dynamic has changed. Again, this is not a bad thing. Notre Dame is still great but in a different way.

      A wonderful book to see the Notre Dame that was is Resurrection. I highly recommend it and a comparison between that era and today may explain why the school has not achieved much success on the gridiron over the last 18 years.

    67. I was at Notre Dame 50 years ago. There were lots of guys there who were the sons of 1st or 2nd generation Catholic immigrants who worked their butts off to give their sons a good education with a good solid Catholic foundation, and Notre Dame was the logical place for their kids to go.

      50 years on – Notre Dame is the wealthy and prestigious university envisioned by Father Hesburgh. It is also expensive beyond the dreams of most kids who could have afforded it (with some difficulty) a few generations ago, and to me and many others, a SMALL percentage of whom are haters, it is in large measure elitist and arrogant, qualities that do not speak well of a university that would be known as Catholic.

      Even thought I did not graduate from Notre Dame, I still love the place.

    68. ND has become a 50 cent team. Good for 2 quarters. They play great the first half and then hand it back to the other team on a silver platter. A good psychologist might help.

    69. Brad Hoke is in his 1st year as head coach of University of Michigan. Tonight after a 10 and 2 season Michigan plays in the Sugar Bowl. Stanford which is one of the top rated academic Universities in the country played in the Fiesta Bowl last night with a fist year coach.

      Say what want and believe what you want, but to quote Frank Lenti the most successful high school coach in Illinois history. Losers make excuses winners make it happen.