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  • Time for Kelly to Deliver

    by John Vannie

    Following consecutive lackluster 8-5 campaigns in which Notre Dame generally underachieved on the gridiron, the advent of the 2012 season gives rise to legitimate expectations that Coach Brian Kelly will demonstrate he is a marked improvement over his recent predecessors.

    Year three is traditionally a significant data point in the resume of successful Irish coaches, but Kelly can take comfort in the fact that no one expects him to compete for a national championship this fall. Still, he needs to distance himself from the Weis/Willingham/Davie regimes by winning more than the seven games the preseason polls suggest he will. Given the talent at his disposal, a coach who is more than a middle-of-the-pack plodder should be able to snatch a couple of additional wins.

    Irish Fans Also Have a New Helmet

    The schedule includes two road games against top five teams in USC and Oklahoma, and seven contests against non-entities such as Navy, Wake Forest and Boston College. The Trojans and Sooners may be out of reach for this year’s team, but a more fair test for Kelly arises when the Irish battle three teams ranked a few slots above them who do not have an advantage in talent. Two of these teams, Michigan and Stanford, travel to Notre Dame Stadium while the Irish will face the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing. If Kelly can go 2-1 against this trio and turn in a 9-3 regular season, most neutral observers will declare success.

    There are several reasons for beleaguered fans to be optimistic after two decades of frustration. Sophomore Quarterback Everett Golson promises to bring excitement to a moribund and mistake-prone offense. While Kelly focuses on Golson’s development, newly assigned Offensive Coordinator Chuck Martin and incoming Offensive Line Coach Harry Hiestand are expected to revitalize the running game. Kelly’s three recruiting classes have added size, depth and athleticism to the defense, so Kelly no longer has to wait for “his guys” to mature.

    Although there are concerns at cornerback, Bennett Jackson has been solid in camp and is a lock to start. A spirited competition is taking place on the other side and at nickel back. Veteran Jamoris Slaughter is moving to free safety to replace Harrison Smith (now playing for the Minnesota Vikings), and a number of athletes are lined up behind Slaughter and returning strong safety Zeke Motta. Notre Dame is loaded at linebacker, where the group flanking Manti Te’o now includes young studs like Kendall Moore, Romeo Okwara, Ishaq Williams and Jarrett Grace in addition to familiar names like Carlo Calabrese, Danny Spond, Dan Fox and Prince Shembo.

    Generating a pass rush will be the key element for Bob Diaco’s defense. The starting line has three future NFL players in Stephon Tuitt, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Louis Nix. Reinforcements include solid players such as Chase Hounshell and Kona Schwenke, and promising newcomers like Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones.

    The difference between a best outcome of 10-2 and a disappointing 6-6 mark will largely be determined by Golson’s ability to use the weapons at this disposal while avoiding the crushing turnovers that have plagued Kelly’s first two Irish teams. Golson will be protected by an above-average offensive line and have three capable running backs  to share the load. All-American tight end Tyler Eifert will be his security blanket, and the offense can really hit its stride if a legitimate deep threat emerges from a group of wide receivers comprised of unheralded and unproven players.

    The line between success and failure for Kelly this season is razor thin. He must do a better job of tailoring his offense to the strengths of his key players. He will also have to simplify things for Golson in the first few weeks and he or Martin must do a better job of calling plays in a timely manner.

    Intangibles such as team unity, injuries, conditioning and luck will move the needle in either direction, but Notre Dame fans are tired of coming out on the short end of that equation. It will take more than eight wins for Kelly to convince people that his program is on the rise rather than drifting further into the two-decade abyss, but this year’s edition of the Fighting Irish has the talent to live up to expectations and even overachieve.

    64 Responses to “Time for Kelly to Deliver”

    1. Kelly will NOT be fired after the 3rd year……….

    2. At least 2 more wins in the regular season – record of 10-2 at least – for BK and staff to show progress. Otherwise, fan (and Team) confidence will suffer. 10-2 should get the IRISH to a BCS Bowl and I think it would be even odds against any team NOT in the Championship Game.

      • borromini says:

        As the article notes, 9-3 would be successful. I doubt that would cause the team and fans to lose confidence. 10-2 would be a gift considering the schedule.

    3. Kelly is already preparing fans by using the if we win 8 games this year it will be the first time in a long time that ND has had 3 straight 8 win seasons. That used to be unacceptable. I wont accept it now either. Kelly states he can coach up 3 star talent to be competitive now is the time to put up or shut up. He needs to win no less than nine and be competetive in every game. We need to beat Stanford and Michigan St. and Michigan. For one if we continue to lose to Michigan that is a recruiting disaster and I dont think Brady Hoke is an upper tier coach. We need to be competitive at USC and Oklahoma. If we dont step it up we will be 8-5 forever. This is a no excuses season. He says this is his first year with “his” guys and the team should reflect him. We will see what mirror they are looking into as the year progresses.

      • Doug,

        I completely agree with your assessment. 9-10 wins were attainable the last two years, only to be undone by Kelly’s coaching in the fourth quarter (Tulsa and Michigan St. two years ago; Michigan and Florida St. last year). Near losses to Pitt and BC last year only kept us from being 6-6, may I add. Because of Kelly’s style of offense, the lack of a successful running game in short yardage situations–3rd and 2 or less–will keep us from winning 10 games or more in any given season, regardless of the schedule. Also, his inability to determine a starting quarterback this deep into fall camp for the third year in a row is quite alarming.

    4. Giggity_Giggity says:

      I’ll settle for not being embarrassed. Sadly, the frigging uniforms for Miami have already pushed the odds against me, but not turning the ball over like a miner in a whorehouse on payday would probably ensure a decent record this year. No Tulsas, No USFs, no Navy ’10’s and we’ll be well on our way to elevated mediocrity and the occasional BCS shellacking. Huzzah!

    5. Kelly should be on the hot seat. Although he has not had a lot of time at ND he has shown some extremely alarming signs that may keep our program from ever being competitive. the quarterback situation must be fixed once and for all. The mishandling of Crist and the inability to find someone better than Rees last year hurt the program especially I think with the recruitment of wide receivers of the highest level. Great recruiting on paper but poor position recruitment at the cornerback position puts the defense in great peril. His coaching performance with a bye before USC makes one question whether he can do the job at all.

      • “His coaching performance with a bye before USC makes one question whether he can do the job at all.”

        I tend to agree with this observation, because I just do not see how a Notre Dame coach in his second year could lose to USC by 14 points and still be regarded as a legitimate head coach of Notre Dame. I mean just look at the facts.

        Lots of people like to point to USC having Barkley and finishing 10-2 and #6 in the AP, including an OT loss to Stanford. – or that it’s essentially the same team that is ranked #1 to start this Season. That’s no excuse for a Notre Dame coach to lose to USC by 14, especially after a bye week.

        None of that is a reason to lose to USC, when Rees had beat them the year before at Southern Cal. Especially when Kelly now how had Crist available. Way too much is made of Crist fumbling a snap from center causing a 14 point swing that was the difference in the score. It was obvious to anyone paying attention that Crist was just about to break out of his funk of having 13 consecutive possessions against Navy, Tulsa, USF and USC without scoring any points.

        If Kelly had just stuck with Crist – not only could Crist have broken out of his funk and beaten USC – we could have brought Crist back for a fifth year and have given him even more time to live up to his 5 star HS rating. Kelly’s decision to move onto his own QBs — Golson, Kiel and Zaire, when he still had Crist was just a clear blunder to all the fans who know a lot more about college QBs than Kelly. Weis presented Kelly with a treasure at QB and Kelly just squandered it. People make way too much out of Crist getting injured at a rate of better than one out of every four game appearances. It’s like that 13 possession scoreless streak – a good coach knows that you just stick with it and ride those things out.

        And speaking of riding things out – we all know Kelly panicked by throwing the ball so much against USC. Anybody who knows anything about Notre Dame history knows that Ara had already proven that was a mistake – and so there was no excuse for Kelly to make the same mistake. In 1970, Ara’s team was 9-0 and ranked #2 and heavily favored against a hapless USC team that was 5-4-1, and when Ara got behind early in the game, he also panicked and went pass happy, where Theismann’s 526 yards passing is still the school record, yet Notre Dame still lost 38-28.

        You can bet that Ara learned from his mistake, even though he had losses to USC by 22 points and 32 points over the following three years. We all know that was a different Era. You cannot compare Ara losing three times to USC in four years by an average of over 20 points a game to the present Era – you are comparing apples to oranges.

        flirish is dead on. For Kelly to lose to USC after a bye week by 14 points – even a highly ranked USC team – does make one question whether Kelly can do the job at all.

        • Mypeoplewillgetyou says:

          “because I just do not see how a Notre Dame coach in his second year could lose to USC by 14 points and still be regarded as a legitimate head coach of Notre Dame. I mean just look at the facts.”

          Lou lost to Southern Cal in his second season 1987 by 17.

          “It was obvious to anyone paying attention that Crist was just about to break out of his funk of having 13 consecutive possessions against Navy, Tulsa, USF and USC without scoring any points.”

          I saw was a wild-eyed kid who constantly looked about to crap his pants. 13 scoreless possessions is evidence that he was just about to break his streak?

          “…Golson, Kiel and Zaire, when he still had Crist was just a clear blunder to all the fans who know a lot more about college QBs than Kelly”

          Really…? Zaire isn’t even on campus yet. How do you know more about the quarterbacks than the guy who coaches them every day. Is this a serious post?

          • “Is this a serious post?”

            Only if you think sarcasm is serious. LOL

            The same fans who blame Kelly for every fumbled ball and INT seem content to excuse Crist for 13 straight possessions without a single point to show for it. I mean – it’s not like Crist had that bad streak against weak competition … oh wait, he did: Navy, Tulsa and USF. But still – that’s Kelly’s fault that Crist did not perform. I mean – you could conceivably blame Crist and not Kelly – if Kelly showed the ability to develop any of the other players left over by Weis or if Kelly ever had a history of success with QBs. Oh wait – Kelly turned around the O-line, the D-line, Jonas Bray, Hughes, Harrison Smith etc. and … okay so he developed Div II QBs into NFL QBs – still, who are you going to trust on this one – the coaches or the fans?

            Even assuming Crist could beat out Rees – you don’t bring back Crist for a 5th year if you have a pretty good idea that you are moving on to your own QBs. I think they had a pretty good idea that they were making the switch – especially with Martin taking over as the offensive coordinator.

            I like our chances at the QB position heading forward with Golson, Kiel and Zaire.

            • Mypeoplewillgetyou says:

              Okay! I absolutely agree and have enjoyed the positive direction in regards to player development that seems to have taken place under Kelly.

              I absolutely agree it was time to move on with our QBs. Crist was not the guy. Here in New Orleans, LSU fans were VERY upset about losing Kiel to us. He was seen as the guy who steps in and helps in a national championship run. He has a ton of potential. While I’m glad Kelly isn’t afraid to play him if needed, I hope Golson takes off and gives him time to hit the weights and learn the playbook.

              The season can’t get here soon enough.

            • Your use of the 13 straight possessions is cherry picking at its worst. So if Jonas Gray had plunged into the endzone Dayne Crist would have somehow been a better QB? Had the USF DB not had perfect coverage on the play before his interception Dayne Crist would have been a better QB? Had Theo Riddick not slipped in the endzone on that interception SOMEHOW Dayne Crist would have been a better QB? PA-LEASE! Crist had great numbers out of the gate in his first starting season, the fact that he got “worse” as time went on should point you to the problem possibly being the people around him.

              The idea that you would dump Crist last year because you were somehow thinking of the next year is reasoning that no coach would ever use. If you don’t want to bring him back then you don’t extend him a fifth year. Sacrificing games to make it more politically easy for you not to do it is knuckleheadedness.

              And your quoting of Div II Qbs in the NFL…how many of them threw an NFL pass in the regular season…Bueller? Bueller?

              Your post seems smart for people that don’t follow along but it is just void of anything of value for those that do. Let me see if I have this right….everything good is attributed to Kelly any anything bad is attributed to something else…how convent. He is responsible for what happens on his watch and we have seen two eight win seasons. Let’s see what year three holds.

              The fact that nobody really picked up your sarcasm until you took it to ridiculous levels should tip you off that your argument isn’t as strong as you think it is.

          • Lou did not lose to USC in 1987. He won 26-15. That was during the IRISH Decade of Dominance.

            • Mypeoplewillgetyou says:

              You are correct. My apologies – the wikipedia link I followed took me to 1980.

          • The treatment of Dayne Crist was and is reprehensible . Crist has made such an impression at Kansas that professional scouts have stopped by this fall to view his performance and come away amazed that he could have possibly been treated the way he was by Kelly . Say what you will about Charlie but you cannot argue with his judgement on QB’s . As one scout was quoted as saying ” he made 22 throws , each one was right on the money with real zing on it . He completed 20 and 2 were dropped and should have been caught . If he stays healthy he’ll be a high draft pick . He’ll definitely be playing on Sundays next year .”

            No one can change those facts and it’s egg on Notre Dame’s face . Someone is going to have a lot of explaining to do come January 2013 . This is all on Swarbrick and it’s not pretty .

            • You are absolutley right about Crist. My feeling is Tommy Rees was never treated the same way Dayne was, otherwise he would have been pulled in game 2. Crist had an ok 2 quarters against South Florida and gets pulled, 1st game of the year, working out the kinks, and gets treated that way… Leave him in the game for the 2nd half and they win, Mich would have never had an opportunity to come back, USC would have been a last possession coin flip…Tommy don’t look like a quarterback for big time football, when Dayne was in he had a presence about him…. He definately got the short end of Kelly’s lack of coaching stick, I can only imagine where we would have been at the end of last year and probably a top 15 team going into this season w/ an experienced qb in Crist….

            • Say what you will about Charlie – he never played the game of football and never coached a college team before landing the Notre Dame job, but he sure was good at marketing himself, taking credit for Tom Brady, and selling his QBs to NFL Scouts, though I am not sure that he can pull that off this time.

              Name: Dayne Crist (+) Coming off multi-knee injuries/Transfer from Notre Dame
              Rated number 19 out of 134 QB’s

              “Crist looks the part and has the arm strength to play at the next level, but tries to be too perfect with his throws, forcing him to think too much in the pocket. He needs to refine his accuracy and show better consistency as a passer, but above all, Crist needs to prove to NFL clubs that he has the confidence needed for the position.”

              Best of luck to Charlie, Dayne and KS, but come September 2012, no further explanation will be needed as to why Golson is playing QB for Notre Dame and that Kelly has moved on to his QBs and is happy to let Weis take his back.

        • BradChicago says:

          The year before Barkley was injured and did not play. Your argument therefore doesn’t hold water. Better have a reality check before spouting your opinions. The merry-go-round at the coaching position hasn’t helped recruiting.

    6. Prevonwinter says:

      Kelley is just not a Champion level coach. He doesn’t compete in all aspects of the game (see punt return stats 2011), He gives up in big games (see USC 2011) and he can’t coach players (see Tulsa game 2010 and Michigan State OT 2011). There are so many glaring signs that he is just not a top 25 coach, period. It simply does not matter how a coach recruits if it doesn’t translate to success on the field. Kelly does not coach like a Champion!

    7. Conceding games, championships, season expectations, player performance, all prior to the season. That’s not the ND I admire, that’s not the values I associate with ND. That’s disgusting!

      • That’s not the way I remember it either.

        “Whether the odds be great or small – Ol’ Notre Dame will win over all.”

    8. Weis developed qb’s and nothing else. Kelly has developed a team. I never thought I’d see a D-line like the Irish have even with the departure of Lynch. Kelly has gone two years and has changed his offense to a more balanced offense. We have an O-line, we have backs that can run, he resurrected Jonas Grey from the scrap heap, he has passion and a vision. If the Irish win 9 games that would be awesome, 10 – amazing! With this schedule – even 8 wins. It depends on how they play. We scream for Golsen – a qb who has never taken a meaningful snap – if he turns out bad – who are we going to blame? How about shutting up with the “I know better than Kelly” crap and watch the freaking games! TWO WEEKS! GO IRISH! GO IRISH!

    9. TAking care of the football is a must for Kelly and the Irish. All the ingredients are in now in SOuth Bend to have a breakout season. Golson will prevail, Eifert will surpass expectations and the running game will surprise the football gurus around the nation. Theo and C. Wood will dazzle the defense as will the offensive line. 10-2 is very attainable. 9-3 is acceptable but not what we want and NEED.

    10. JPND – Your 8:15 – I agree. ND football used to be respected and feared. Such is no longer the case. Now it is silly uniforms, Ozzie on the P.A. system, a coach who can’t make up his mind about who is going to start at QB less than 2 weeks before the season starts, ad infinitum.

      Coach – Prove me wrong. PLEASE.

      Giggity_Giggity “I’ll settle for not being embarrassed.”

      I won’t

    11. Kelly Gruene says:

      It still comes down to player performance. Schemes, game plans, and “coaching up” are important, but if the players don’t perform, the team won’t win. Last year’s disaster resulted from players not performing. Fumble after fumble, interception after interception. ND will never win if players continue to make huge mistakes. Schemes and game plans just cannot make up for that. I am a believer that this coaching staff has the ability to create game plans and schemes that will allow ND to compete in every game. The young men on the team need to step up and perform. There’s a lot of talent on this team, and even more going forward. Win against two of the big three (OU, UM, USC) and the floodgates will open from a recruiting standpoint, a confidence standpoint, and ticket sale standpoing (no more pesky e-mails telling us that we still have the opportunity to purchase BYU game tickets!).

      • El Kabong says:

        Whose responsibility is it to prepare those players so they perform at the proper level?

        Why do those players who make “fumble after fumble” and throw “interception after interception” continue to play?

        • This is exactly right – I agree with El K. The question shouldn’t be about the choosing of a kid to play QB (which places the too much onus on players) but on Kelly’s ability to develop QBs and structure a gameplan that puts the players in a position to succeed. While “finding” and “choosing” players may be appropriate for the first year (and the pros – which is a model we too often import), it isn’t the right model for 18-22 yr olds. Systemic mistakes fall on the coach and we’ve seen too many of those.

    12. I understand and agree with many of the posts here, as well as the main article. However, there may be something special happening at ND this year that no one sees except the die hard fans that annually predict a National Championship and Heisman Trophy for ND (like me), even in spite of recognizing the various deficiencies of the team. I know that the Rice comparisons to Golson have started and do see some similarities, if only from the South Carolina/sophomore angle. The real parallel to me is the low expectations for the team in 1988. No one, at least that I can recall, expected much from the defense or the quarterback(at least from a passing standpoint). Similarly, ND is not expected to have more than 8 wins and Kelly has been feeding into that mentality. I too thought he was lowering the bar and beginning the “spin” to make such a year appear successful. Perhaps he is borrowing from the Holz playbook of always espousing lowered expectations in the media. Kelly has spent some significant time with Lou and Ara. And the times I have witnessed seem to show more of a relationship with those former coaches than they had with the aloof Weis. I only say this because it seems that some of their coaching philosophies may be rubbing off on Brian. All of this is guesework and likey means nothing. But I for one expect in August big things for this team, as I always do. My hope is that this year I am right.

    13. Hey EK,

      We’re looking for someone to take the negative side of a podcast debate regarding Kelly’s hire as HC of Notre Dame and evaluating his first two years. Someone related to me that this is the Site to find such a person and that you’d be the person to ask. Any ideas or recommendations of who would be up to that task? Or perhaps this post could be published to solicit ideas or volunteers.

      Thanks, Tom

      • So with all the Kelly Naysayers – isn’t one of them capable of debating the topic on a Podcast?

        A person familiar with this Site told me there is a JT or ACross? We’re just looking for someone who has the ability to be articulate on this topic – someone with at least a modicum of understanding of college football.

        • John Mackey says:

          I would guess you’d be better off clicking on the contact ops button on the message boards than guessing they might see a blog comment buried more than halfway down.

        • El Kabong says:

          Let me get this straight. You, under the handle “Artful Dodger” (and don’t try to deny it, the email address and IP addresses match), got a couple bad deletes last October, sent the Ops obnoxious emails in response, and got yourself banned as a result. But now you come on here alleging you’re relying on “someone related to you” and “a reliable source” for info on how the site works, asking if there’s “a JT or Across”, like you don’t already know who those posters are since they’ve been with us for years?

          Given that rather shameless level of disingenuity, how big a grain of salt should I take with your assertion that this alleged podcast will be a “fair/neutral format”? Maybe if you’d been straightforward from the get-go, it might have had a chance. But a transparent attempt to draw our audience to whatever group you operate with for what you think will be some kind of ambush? Not going to happen.

          I podcast with Dome and Domer frequently, and appear on a lot of Mike Frank’s post-game shows along with the occasional Power Hour. That’s all the podcasting I feel like doing. You want to debate me, call in to one of those shows.

          • Having Mike Frank or Dome and Domer hosting the debate would be fine, if you are worried about format and fairness. There are plenty of podcast formats available. Heck – I would be fine with Mike Frank acting as Moderator, if that will make you feel more comfortable.

            If you doubt that one of your members made recommendations to me as to who would be good candidates for debate – I can have that person confirm it for you or show you copies of what was provided to me. I was never a regular on this Site, and I did not know who is who until I was informed.

            I post on another Site. When I showed up in October, as you mention, it was in reaction to hearing about the posting that was taking place here at that time. And the posting that I did then is no different from posts I have done here in response to this Article – you can read them. When I was informed that my posts violated the Site standards and that I needed to change or be banned – I politely replied that such standards were not acceptable to me – in effect, accepting the banning choice. This Site is quite notorious for banning contrary opinions.

            If you still cannot handle an open discussion where you confront a contrary opinion – that’s fine, but you needn’t make up excuses for ducking a debate.

            • El Kabong says:

              Nice story. The only trouble with it is even though you claim you were “never a regular”, you registered for the site in February of 2009 and got banned in November of 2011. If you’re suggesting you were so prescient that you knew you were going to need to “respond to the posting that was taking place” on that day, Ms. Cleo, well, that’s your boggle.

              As I said, you weren’t banned because of a couple bad deletes — not even enough to get suspended — but because of the obnoxious emails you sent in response to them. Had you asked to have your handle turned off or otherwise “accepted the choice” not to post here, your handle would be inactive, not banned. That’s why we have both statuses, so we can remember which side prompted the decision. Since you’ve now reprised your obnoxious tone in the “still cannot handle an open discussion” snark, methinks I have all the evidence I need.

              There are plenty of people on the site who post contrary opinions. What they do that you did not is handle themselves in a way that doesn’t cause us problems and force us to clean up messes on the board. If we’re “notorious” for anything, it’s removing posters that act like pains in the ass and make our jobs more difficult.

              In any event, we’re not about to bring hit count to whatever podcast you operate. You want to “debate” me, call in to Mike Frank’s postgame show when I’m on and I’ll be happy to do so.

            • El Kabong says:

              The bottom line here is you had two choices in how to arrange this podcast you seek, and you chose the wrong one.

              There are links on the front page and the message boards on how to get in touch with us. You know they’re there, you used them to complain about your bad deletes in the past. You could have used one of them to send us a politely-worded email suggesting the online debate and laying out how it would work. The three of us would have talked about it and decided whether or not it met our schedules (since we all have other jobs and families) or otherwise was a good idea. Your status as a banned poster probably wouldn’t have helped, but we would have considered it, and might even have done it had we thought the whole thing was being handled in a mature manner.

              You, on the other hand, chose to slip a snarky request chock full of half-truths into the comments in a blog article, including the almost mandatory insinuation that we “can’t handle contrary opinions”. That way, if we decided not to do it, the request was public, so you could go back to whatever site you post on and crow about how the NDN board ops are “scared of you” or whatever. Because that was almost as big a goal (if not bigger) than getting us to appear on the podcast to begin with. Win-win for you, in your mind.

              Vannie can decide to do whatever he wants, I’ll bring this little exchange to his attention. But I’m choosing not to “debate” you not because I’m somehow scared of you, but because, based on how you’ve behaved on our boards and on this page, you’re an asshole. I have to deal with enough assholes in real life. I’m not about to voluntarily spend time with another.

    14. Kelly is not the right coach for n.d. He makes excuses constantly. Talks about developing these kids. He should run for congress cause he would fit right in! Hope I’m wrong . GO IRISH!

    15. JDriveSthND says:

      Underachieved compared to what, the 15-21 mark that Weis put up in the 3 season preceding Kelly’s arrival?

      Hey I’m hoping that the Irish take a big leap forward this year and that the pieces are all there to do so. Let’s just keep something in mind though shall we? ND’s glory years since 1994 were the 2005 and 2006 seasons where the Irish went 9-3 and 10-3, respectively and made consecutive BCS bowl games. That’s the best, the very best, the Irish have put on the field since the Holtz era, 19-6.

      So, did Kelly underachieve by putting up a 16-10 record in his 1st two years according too ND standards. No, he didn’t. The Davie, Willingham and Weis eras all bread a culture at Notre Dame that said losing is now ok. We fans have experienced losses to teams in the past decade and a half that would have been unthinkable in the glory days of the Holtz era. Kelly’s been trying to undo that culture and he’s had to do it with Dayne Crist or Tommy Rees running the show. If Crist had actually played up to his 5-star potential, Rees had the physical ability to take his game to the next level, the Irish would have had better seasons 1 and 2 under Kelly. Coach has been extremely hamstrung by there quarterbacks.

      He’s going to Golson this year for sure, and do you know why? Because he’s his guy. Kelly’s tried it for two years with Weis QB recruits and they haven’t worked out. He’s not going to make the same mistake again by starting Hendrix who barely threw the ball before he got to ND.

      I’m pretty confident that in spite of the schedule the Irish are at least a 9-win team. Putting Golson on the field will add a player that other teams have to account for. We haven’t seen that in a year and a half. Golson is young, but he’s displayed everything you could want in a QB – accuracy, mobility, the ability to extend plays and make something out of nothing, and as we’ve now seen in the spring and the fall, the ability to protect the football. He didn’t throw many picks in high school, and it doesn’t look like he’ll throw a lot at ND either. Even if Golson only cuts Rees’ INT from last year in half, that coupled with his added arms strength to open the vertical passing game and running ability to pick up cheap yards on the ground will be enough to really open up this offense.

      Will there be growing pains? For sure. But we were already watching growing pains each week last season in spite of the fact that we had junior QB with 16 starts to his name. The switch will be good and this Irish team will post its best record since 2006 in 2012.

      • John Vannie says:

        Underachieved by losing to Tulsa, South Florida and Navy besides going 0-2 against very ordinary Michigan teams and quitting against USC last year. Meanwhile, Kelly beat no one of significance and has not demonstrated that he is a difference maker as a head coach.

        • The jury is certainly still out but I wouldn’t call an 11-2 Michigan team ‘ordinary’ (Beatable, yes) and we beat an 11-3 Michigan State team last year. Bad loss to USF, losses to 11-2 Stanford, 10-2 USC, 9-4 Florida State…

          Still don’t know if Kelly’s the guy (yes I get it.. you KNOW he’s not the guy) but a bit of hyperbole in your post.

        • So Vannie – I have been told by a reliable source that you would have the capability of defending your position on Kelly in a podcast debate. Is that true? It would be a fair/neutral format. There’s obviously both a lot of interest in the subject and a lot of disagreement. It should be fun. If you are not the right guy – perhaps you know someone else who could handle it.

    16. Big Surprise! 11-1 season w/ Gholson running and passing like a star. Defense will be superb w/
      a narrow loss to Ok or USC

    17. Eric Dreher says:

      Why all the hate on Kelly let the games be played to judge. As to regards to talent we have the talent but maybe not as much depth, but keep this in mind never underestimate a hungery animal because it u do you will get bitten. This team along with the coaches are very hungery and ready to prove the doudters wrong, remember Holtz and his reverse talk we don’t stand a snow balls chance today, and what was result win,win,win,win,win, week after week to a surprising record of 11-0!!!!!

    18. irishhawk50 says:

      I think the jury is still out on Brian Kelly. He has made real progress from the Weis years, but hasn’t quite turned the corner yet. The schedule is difficult this year but with the recruiting classes that ND has it should be possible to win at least 8 games on a regular basis. A well coached team should do better.

      I can’t leave without a rant about the uniforms. What was Jack thinking? It looks like Bozo the clown designed these uniforms and those helmets! I think even blind people will find them offensive. I would hope recruits come to ND for reasons other than clown uniforms. If ND thinks this is the way to attract the new generation they would be better off trying to have their scientists find a cure rather than pandering to this “new” ways of kids seeing the world crap.

    19. sam gerardi says:

      Does not take a genius to figure out that Brian “they call me coach” Kelly belongs in ND’s grave yard of coaches! – sequel to Miami of Ohio’s Cradel of coaches. A great review of the arrogant sun visor kid is not hard to protray – beginning with his poster boy – Terrible Tommy Turnover – and OMG – how does he continue the saga – a) permit him not only on the practice field but b) take snaps – when after the pathetic display of the gutless wonder in the Stanford game, he should have named the QB for FSU and the upcoming season and left TTT in South Bend… Forget that Crist should never have been blamed for the lousy play calling and lousy game preparation vs FL. – but Hendrix and Golson (forget the damn redshirt) should have carried the season… then the dude is out for spring practice and now Kelly boom has a new coach = TTT!!! WHOW – what a program! How about Kelly’s early on apprasial of TTT after the Pitt game – ” he masered the 4th Q drive to win the game against a .500 ball club!!! 31 minutes of offensive fb and TTT moved the team into end zone for a “hard fought” victory!!! However, it is reported on the west coast that some dude associated with the university did indeed get the ND wonderful accompluishment about getting the kneeing of a police officer and fleeing a true accomplishment and recognition and acceptance of this ridiculous decision by the ND administration!!. HOWEVER!!! TTT is demand by the SEC, ACC, PAC12 and Big 12 to give a seminar on the proper techique of getting the knee in proper position to permit a get away – damn cabbie that nailed the dude… “MY OFFENSE!!!” – when did football deviate from fundamentals of exucation and attacking the opponets weak spots – key rice tahhh – with all of the electronics for game breakdown – why does he need a play card to call a 3rd/4th & short to call aplay?? Give the play card to offensive coordinator to call plays from press box = and Kelly – manage the game and save your outbusrts for the practice field… as a Leahy’s LAd and disciple, review his All Americans, lads in the Hall of Fame…. gerardi

    20. I believe N.D. is hampered by three issues: they do not “blanket redshirt” all freshmen, they do not accept Junior College transfers (en mass), and the student athletes must actually attend class and earn acceptable grades – unlike University of Michigan who doesn’t allow professors to grade scholarship athletes.

    21. greekirish says:

      Agreed Dan people should be more optimistic after going 16-21 , to 16-10 is welcoming, Go Irish

    22. These ar eother times. Our position in the college elites has been displaced by competition on how programs are run and recruit players. Se ND fans (and I cinlude myself) need to lay off the royal coolaid.
      Kelly is a good coach with the program he has in hand. I will be happy with a 9 win season, expect an 8 win season. I have always said like it or not, if Kelly cannot make this ship better, then I doubt other coaches can.

    23. I would like to remind everyone who is conceding the two games to USC and Oklahoma and are questioning games against Michigan, Michigan State and Stanford, that games are played on the field and not in articles. It is like no one believes that the Irish can take the field and win one of the big two games and more than the hopeful two out of three against the other three. The talent is there. We should take the first two easily, however they must be played first. If thy are easy, then we have experience under the belts of all players and I do not think that they will take the field the rest of the year just to play well against those five big shots. They need to take the field with the belief that they can win against all odds. That is why they are playing for Notre Dame! Be world beaters and not just the team that the fans and naysayers think you will be. FACE THE CHALLANGE!!!

    24. This is a breakout year for the Irish. Anything less than ten and two will be hard to swallow. USC is the only team that will be hard to beat, but I think we have a good shot in that game. Oklahoma, to me is highly overated, and I believe we take that game. At least ten and two plus a BCS bowl victory.

    25. Let me state emphatically that I am not a Brian Kelly fan. I too feel that Crist was our best quarterback last year and if he had been left alone after the South Florida game the season may have been different. Rees was given a much longer leash. Crist was never Kelly’s guy and since we do not go to practice and see the day to day problems we will never know. Kelly wanted it to work out and have Crist for one more year and move Golson in this year. Maybe Golson is the real deal. We will see.

      The big problem is ND cannot have a revolving door with coaches. Kelly needs to be successful as I see coaches moving further away from this job for many reasons. Can ND be a national factor anymore? That is the question. Is it just too difficult to recruit to ND because of location and academics? Will ND be forced into a conference and become regionalized which is the fear of most alumni? Does the administration get it and realize that football is important to the university? All these questions matter.

    26. We play 12 games. Nobody has scored in any of them. 10-2 is not the best outcome. 12-0 is the best outcome. Concede nothing.

    27. Kelly lost control of the team in the bye week last year. The performance against south florida andFlorida State are examples of horrific coaching and horrific preparation. The Michigan game was horrible He has not shown anything as of this point. This year is do or die for him

    28. As a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (and someone who cares more about the university than its sports teams) I have to disagree with all the negativity surrounding the above commentary. Yes, there have been times when Brian Kelly has messed up, but I do believe that recruiting has improved as well as the attitude of the team. If you believe that in this day and age of college football that 8-5 is so terrible with usually one of the toughest (if not the toughest) schedule year in and year out, then you might as well root for another program. The landscape has changed and the competition across the nation is that much tougher. Schools like Michigan State and Sout Florida are a lot better than people want to admit. No, I’m not satisfied with mediocrity, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that Kelly has improved almost every aspect of the program. A national championship is no longer something that is always (or even sometimes attainable). We are moving in the right direction and Kelly deserves the 5 years to prove it just as all the other coaches in the past were. What we need is fans who root for their team instead of criticizing it all the time because we don’t go undefeated year in and year out. Look for the Irish to play better ball this year with new-found strength on defense. That is how you win championships, not by outscoring the opposition, but by stopping them and demoralizing their spirit. That has not happened in the past 20 years, but its beginning to look like it can.

    29. I was riding high on Kelly but most of you are right, Im just ignoring the facts. The truth his Kelly hasn’t beat anyone of note while coaching Notre Dame. The defense has been horrible and we had three punt return yards last year, THREE! No championship caliber coach would let this happen, honestly from Lou Holtz, Nick Saban and every great coach in between this would never happen. I remember a couple of games guys just fair caught the ball no matter what, you know the coaches told them to do that.

      I’m hoping for a good season but all I got is hope. The games against Michigan, OU, and USC will tell us a lot. Kelly and his staff will have to do a complete 180 in so many areas for us to look respectable in the big games this year. My question is, is that possible? Remember a game came be lost because a coach gets out coached. Kelly always talks about simplifying things, and only doing what a player can handle.

      Lou Holty has football philosophy, his teams will play his brand of football, thats it.

    30. bocceman2 says:

      I hate to be a pessimist but Kelly has not inspired me at all. The late collapse against Michigan, lack of preparation for USC and Stanford, losing to Florida State after having a 14 point half time lead, he was outcoached in every one of those losses including USF.
      Mistakes are the responsibility of the Coach having his team prepared. There is no mental toughness on this team after two years.
      ND was swindled once again after their most desirable choices for coach turned them down.
      Prove me wrong BK.

    31. Kelly Gruene says:

      I just don’t get all the Kelly hate. Look at the last 10 national champions with their coaches: Alabama (Saban), Auburn (Chizek), Alabama (Saban), Florida (Meyer), LSU (Miles), Florida (Meyer), Texas (Brown), USC (Carroll), LSU (Saban), OSU (Tressel). I guess it’s possible that there could be one coach on this list that could fit at Notre Dame (values, image, etc), recruit the kind of kids that may be recruited at Notre Dame, and actually win. However, look at those schools and those coaches and the kids they recruit and how the recruits are handled. I’m just not sure where the Kelly haters think they’re going to find a better coach than ND currently has. Saban? Carroll? Tressel? Miles? Chizek? Brown? Really? Okay, maybe Meyer could pull it off, but, oh, I forgot, he’s no longer on the market. You just don’t pull a great coach out of a hat and think he’s going to make everything okay at once. Third season. His players. His time. They’ll be competitive and I’ll bet even surprising (in a good way). Stop this hate-train for 8 weeks and see what happens.

    32. Turnovers are a coaching issue. Do not put the weight of the program on a young inexperienced QB as the article states… “The difference between a best outcome of 10-2 and a disappointing 6-6 mark will largely be determined by Golson’s ability to use the weapons at this disposal while avoiding the crushing turnovers that have plagued Kelly’s first two Irish teams”. Poor special teams play and turnovers need to be corrected by coaching. It’s all on Kelly and staff this year. Go Irish!

    33. Scranton Dave says:

      Michigan was ordinary last year in spite of the 11-2 record. They played a weak schedule and were very fortunate to beat ND and Va Tech. I will always think Crist got a raw deal, and I will never understand why Rees was given such a long leash last year. That being said, let’s move on to Golson, and maybe a 10-2 season. Go Irish!!

    34. The pre-season polls would have you believe ND will finish 7-5, with losses to USC, Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State and Stanford (based strictly on rankings, of course). Yet the author somehow believes that a coach who is “more than a middle-of-the-pack plodder should be able to snatch a couple of additional wins”. The question is…why? Our name doesn’t guarantee us victories, nor does any historical precedent. The AP believes there are 5 teams on our schedule that are better than ND. Just because we as fans don’t want to believe it doesn’t make it untrue.

    35. Being a fan of any sport brings hopes of victory from the team one prefers. But fans constitute a culture with an independent life of its own. That culture is the strong motivator of the coverup by Penn State officials. It moves fans to expect continuous National Championships by Notre Dame football player/students. That petty culture motivates the denigration of cerain generous athletes who give more of their lives to Notre Dame than ANY fan demanding to decapitate them.
      The inhumanly petty expectations of football fans is what rears its ugly head in all forums. Excellence is a sane expectation. But continuous National Championships is a deranged fanatical position which causes the witch hunts of coaches and athletes who give their lives catering to fans. The culture must obtain sanity.